Pacific’s new cricket pitch blends culture and sport

Pacific President Christopher Callahan was travelling with a university contingent near Ahmedabad, India last fall when a senior leader shared an idea too good to pass up.

“We need a cricket pitch at Pacific,” Niraj Chaudhary, the university’s dean of libraries, told Callahan.

Callahan liked the idea and put Chaudhary in charge of making it happen.

Flash forward to Thursday, less than six months later. More than 100 people gathered on Brookside Field on the Stockton Campus to celebrate the opening of the university’s new cricket pitch.

“It means a lot to us that the university would consider and build a cricket pitch. This shows how much Pacific cares about students." - Devkumar Patel, student

The atmosphere was festive with an exhibition cricket match, Indian food, Bollywood performances and much more in a celebration of sport and culture.

“Cricket is like a religion to us, and we appreciate the university putting in this cricket pitch,” said Yusuf Ejaz ’24, a native of New Delhi. “This is special to international students. It makes us feel like we are home.”

Callahan said a big part of the process was simply listening to students.

“Long before we built the cricket pitch, the students were playing on makeshift fields, and they wanted more,” Callahan said. “Niraj knows I am an easy sell. We wrote the plan for the facility on the way back from India, and he is the one who made it happen.”

Cricket had begun to take hold at Pacific even before the facility was dedicated. There are 93 active members on Pacific’s cricket club team—a number sure to grow with the university continuing to enroll record numbers of international students (now at 13%). Cricket also is popular in Pakistan, England and other countries with students at Pacific.

Club members had been playing indoors at Main Gym—a functional but hardly ideal venue.

“It means a lot to us that the university would consider and build a cricket pitch. This shows how much Pacific cares about students,” said Devkumar Patel ’24, president of the Pacific Cricket Club. “Back home in India, we would play the sport every day. This will allow us to do the same thing here at Pacific.”  

Men predominately play cricket, but that is something Riya Jain ’25 would like to see change. She embraces two important parts of the culture of India as a cricket player and a Bollywood dancer. She choreographed and took part in the Bollywood routine that was part of the ceremony.

“Both are very important to me,” Jain said. “Dancing is a big part of my life; it is my passion. But I also am dedicated to striving to have more women in cricket. It is the national sport of India and should be available to women, too.”

Special guest Consul General of India Dr. K. Srikar Reddy expects his country to have a growing relationship with Pacific.

“This certainly will make more students from India consider University of the Pacific,” he said. “I could not be more pleased with this event today. We appreciate how the university has embraced our culture. We will have a great friendship with Pacific.”

Cricket primer: 5 facts about the sport

  • Cricket is the second most popular game in the world after soccer, according to USAToday.
  • The Cricket World Cup will be held in the United States for the first time in June and is returning to the Olympics in Los Angeles in 2028.
  • Cricket is played between two teams of 11 players each and consists of a bat-and-ball style that has similarities to baseball, but with different playing and scoring rules.
  • Equipment includes a bat made from willow wood and a cane handle. The bat weighs 2 to 3 pounds. The ball, which weighs approximately 5.5 ounces, can travel upwards of 90 mph depending on the skill of the bowler.
  • The field is oval with a rectangular area in the middle that is 22 yards by 10 feet. Two sets of three sticks, called wickets, are set in the ground at each end of the pitch.