January 23, 2017

YOUTH CRICKET SURGE SPURS PITCH-BUILDING BOOM IN MARYLAND

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EIGHT NEW YOUTH PITCHES COME ONLINE SINCE 2015

Faced with a critical lack of cricket infrastructure for youth players in 2013, the Maryland Youth Cricket Association (MYCA) chose to swim against the tide. Rather than take a “If you build it, they will come” approach, which would have demanded that cricket pitches be built first, MYCA programs played their first few state championship seasons on baseball diamonds (and in one case, a tennis court) while growing participation and public awareness.

Not willing to use the lack of infrastructure as an excuse for inactivity, the MYCA drove forward relentlessly, all the time continuing to work with local sports organizations and officials in various counties. Then, in 2015, the dam burst, and the organization’s hard work began to pay off.

In the space of a few months, new concrete and artificial turf pitches began to appear, first in Germantown with two pitches at Strawberry Knoll, then in Bowie at Rockledge Elementary School. Later in the year came two more pitches, this time at Spencerville Local Park in Burtonsville. In 2016 came another two pitches in Prince George’s County, at Glenn Dale ES and at Whitehall ES. And now in early 2017, with Anne Arundel County’s first pitch going in at Overlook ES, it seems like cricket pitches are simply popping up from the Maryland soil.

The truth is much different, however. Much behind-the-scenes work was done, many public-private partnerships were formed, and a sizable amount of money allocated, to make the “magic” happen. But perhaps more importantly, each local program focused on participation, which in turn, created the demand that was ultimately rewarded with new infrastructure.

For Maryland Youth Cricket, it has been a case of, “If you play it, they will build.” And with discussions already underway for still more cricket pitches, the next few years will doubtless see Maryland’s leadership position grow.