Cricket Fans Chirping Again

Photo: Rob Searcy

Silicon Valley is obsessed with fast computer chips, instant DSL connections and swift cellular communication. So it might be surprising to see 22 students and business professionals on a San Jose high school field playing cricket--a centuries-old game that can easily stretch to six hours, not counting leisurely breaks for tea and cucumber sandwiches.

"It's relaxing but, at the same time, there's a lot of strategy involved," says Shanto Iyengar, professor of communication and political science, as he prepares to bat in the immaculate white uniform of the Stanford Cricket Club. "With modern time pressures, the slowness is a bit problematic. But that's just the tradition of the game. It's a pleasant experience."

In recent years, cricket has grown quite popular in the Bay Area, thanks to an influx of high-tech professionals from Great Britain, India and other former Commonwealth countries. There are now about 30 teams in the Northern California Cricket Association, plus another 25 purely social teams. Stanford's intramural club--a mix of international students, faculty and alumni--consistently wins the league's annual Most Sporting Team award, an honor that team vice president Rohan Chandran, '96, MS '99, credits largely to Iyengar's mature influence.

Iyengar is so dedicated to cricket that he rises early to ride a lawnmower at the rented San Jose high school field until the grass is cut just right. In the coming year, he hopes to work closely with the Stanford Athletics Department to find enough donors to build a real cricket pitch on campus. That way, club members can stay on the Farm, batting, bowling and lunching on their curries and cucumber sandwiches. Nice and slow.