Batsman Ricky Swami of the Patan Panthers, gets a hit against the Cal State Northridge team during the 2019 Santa Clarita Cricket Club Tournament held at Central Park in Saugus on Saturday. Dan Watson/The Signal

Cricket teams play at Central Park, raise money for local charity

Four local cricket teams, including two associated with the Santa Clarita Cricketers, competed in a tournament at Central Park on Saturday, playing a game they love for a good cause.  

Over the past 12 years, the Cricketers have worked to connect other amateur teams across Los Angeles County and play each year, which has remained consistent for the past three years according to Kiran Gururaj, one of the team’s directors. 

By gathering teams to compete, the team also raises money during each tournament and donates to a particular charity or organization in the service of helping others. Last year, the Cricketers donated to firefighters across the valley. Saturday’s game raised money for the Los Angeles Chapter of Child Rights and You. 

Varnica Singh, CRY America Los Angeles action center lead, said she was grateful for the Cricketers to organize the tournament, even under Saturday’s hot weather, and help send their proceeds to CRY.

“I’m really thankful and want to work with them next year,” Singh said. 

“Our goal has been to have a fun-filled day of cricket and get some money in and give it to charity,” Gururaj said. 

The game of cricket shares several similarities with the game of baseball. 

“If you see – except the ball bouncing on the ground – you have pretty much the same field set up,” Gururaj said. “This is 360-degrees. In baseball, you have a diamond and it’s like a sector, right? But it’s still 11 people playing and someone pitching, someone striking, but there’ll be two strikers instead of four bases.”

Sujit Dhareshwar, a player from the Cricketers’ Blue Khiladis team, also noted the similarities between the two sports, from using a batting tool to hit the ball, the field’s layout in a more circular – rather than a diamond – shape and needing people to catch the ball. In cricket, though, there’s no mitt.

“The idea is the same at the end of the day,” he said. “You have to stop the ball.”

Dhareshwar moved to Santa Clarita two years ago and actively looked for nearby cricket teams, having grown up playing the game in India. 

“When I moved here, I was trying to look for folks who play,” he said. “So I used to drive around, literally, in the morning or in the afternoons.” 

As he’s found who to play with, he’s also introduced the game to his son, who is already fascinated with playing baseball.

“This is how you make friends. You move around, play different sports,” Dhareshwar said. “I love sports in general, so I don’t mind playing anything in any other areas too, like baseball. I coached my son, too.”

To learn more or connect with the Cricketers, visit their Facebook page at facebook.com/SantaClaritaCricketers/.

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