While many were still putting away wrapping paper, ribbons and boxes (how “Boxing Day” got its name), about 20 people gathered at the Montclair Dome to play a game of cricket. Cricket is something like baseball, but not exactly; balls are “bowled” instead of “pitched.” There are innings, but the original format of the game lasted for five days, explained David Thompson, Chairman of the Montclair Cricket Club. More rules are posted on the club’s website. The site also surprisingly informs us that “Montclair had a cricket club as far back as 1905. British railroad workers came to town and formed what was known as the ‘Bellevue Cricket Club’ which played in Anderson Park until 1921.”
The current club formed in 2009, and has been sponsoring a game on the day after Christmas for three years; they play about 5-6 games over the course of the year. Raghu Murthy, who manages the Brick Lane Curry House on Valley Road in Upper Montclair, played on the winning team. “I played on David Thompson’s side,” he said with a laugh. It was Murthy’s first Boxing Day match, but won’t be his last. He will “absolutely” play again.
Although the Club calls it the Boxing Day Classic, a match on Boxing Day is not a longstanding cricket tradition, Thompson explained. But the cricketing community is “well known for doing crazy things. There is an eccentric element to cricket.” The modern version of the game, called 20/20, lasts for a reasonable two hours. The Club plays about 5-6 times a year,with players coming from Hoboken, New York City, Philadelphia and Baristaville. In warmer weather they play outside.
Teams are generally chosen on the day. “There is a breadth of abilities and standards, and afterwards we go for beer and a curry,” said Thompson. Thompson, who has lived in Montclair almost ten years, hails from Manchester. Murthy, who moved to Montclair from New York five months ago to manage the restaurant. from Mumbai. But while 80% of the expats are from “cricketing countries” such as England, India, Pakistan, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa, Thompson said there is also a “handful of sporting Americans.” There are a few hybrid players who have switched from baseball to cricket. The game is for “anyone with good hand eye coordination.” There were no women players yesterday, though there have been in the past. In October, there were a number of teens– the children of cricket players.
Sasi Kumar, also from the Brick Lane Curry House, played on the losing team. Murthy feels bad for him, but, “winning and losing is part of the game.” In India, Murthy played a lot of cricket. “It’s like a religion. On every corner you see guys playing cricket.” He used to play in tournaments.
Looking up and seeing he was playing with “Indian, Englishmen, Australians, South Africans” he thought “wow, that’s a great thing. I wish it could happen in India.”
Interested players should contact David Thompson at firstname.lastname@example.org