That is the sound of cricket you hear at Cambrian College
by Randy Pascal
From a Cambrian College sporting perspective, there is a very natural by-product to the increased focus of attracting international students to
northern Ontario. It will come as little surprise to most that a part of the acclimatization of this faction of the student body features a natural
yearning to the athletic activities most prevalent in their homeland.
That was evidenced again last week as Athletic Director Tim Yu and Director – International Anuraj Bajwa made the trek from
Sudbury to Barrie, bringing along a contingent of athletes that would join teams from Georgian, Humber, Centennial, Fanshawe, George Brown and Fleming,
taking part in an indoor cricket tournament.
“With the larger influx of international students that we have on site, there was a demand for that type of sport,” explained Yu. “There has been a lot
of activity, any time we have open gym time.” And while the vast majority of participants are far more familiar with the outdoor game, from their youth,
morphing that version to deal with the winters experienced in this part of the province is certainly do-able.
“It's no different than what kids do with baseball,” said Yu. “Kids that don't have a baseball field will play “wall ball”. They basically modify the
rules and modify the boundaries to accommodate where they are playing. Indoors, you limit certain areas that are out of bounds, and other areas are
designated as home runs or sixes.”
While Yu would never profess to being a cricket expert – his sport of choice is badminton – there was close at hand assistance in the form of Anuraj
Bajwa, who moved from India to Canada in May of 2005, and will celebrate his second year work anniversary with Cambrian College in February of 2019.
“I started playing cricket when I was about eight or nine, and played until university, in India,” said Bajwa. “When I came here, I started looking for
people who played cricket. There is a sizable southeast Asian community in Sudbury, people from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, India, even a couple of people
from Australia who played.”
“To my surprise, there was a small informal league going on within the City of Sudbury,” Bajwa added. “They will play North Bay, or Timmins, or go to
play Barrie or Mississauga. Some of these were students or alumni from Cambrian, some were people from Laurentian, and people who have settled in Sudbury
and have a passion to play cricket.”
It was only a matter of time that Bajwa would carry his interest in the sport over to his new workplace. “We've been working with Tim to get cricket
time in the gym, to let the students play, and he's been very supportive.”
When the call came out for tournament entries, the Cambrian tandem thought they should at least test the waters, gauge the level of interest. Pardon the
on-going aqua analogies, but Bajwa and Yu were flooded with interest.
“There was about 38 students who participated in tryouts, and we selected our top fifteen,” said Bajwa. “I would say that most of them had played
cricket back home.” In fact, the overall caliber of cricketers at Cambrian was very much a revelation to the coaching staff.
“A lot of cricketers might say that they are good bowlers, some of them would say that they are specialist batsmen, and once in a while, someone will
come up and say that they are an all-arounder, which means that they bowl and they bat,” noted Bajwa.
“I was surprised that about eight of our total team members were actually all-arounders. The players, as a whole, said that they definitely wanted to
have fun and learn, but they also wanted to win.” Unfortunately, there was some unforeseen alterations that needed to be made, strategically speaking, for
the local entry, mid-stream.
“The way we were practicing was very different than when we got there,” explained Yu. “Georgian has a track around the upper area of their gymnasium.
That's how we were practicing our home runs. But at Georgian, you're not allowed to hit into the upper deck for safety reasons, with people on the track.
That's an automatic out.”
“Our team started getting used to it as we played our first game, then the second and third,” said Bajwa. “By the end of the day, we were comfortable.
Now we can play future tournaments, and we know the rules.” If you sense this hardly constitutes a one-shot entry for Cambrian in the land of the
cricketers, you are correct.
“This opens up a whole new kind of opportunity for students, current or future, who want to play the game,” said Bajwa. “Our college is becoming a
12-month a year college, with three regular intakes. Every semester, you would have a new set of players that would come in, bringing along a new
enthusiasm and new techniques, something new to give to the game.”
“It's amazing just to think about it.”
As for the varsity component of the Golden Shield family, the volleyball teams (both men's and women's) closed out their first half schedules,
last Wednesday, trading volleys with their in-town rivals over at Collège Boréal.
The Cambrian women were thrilled to welcome veteran Emily Clark back to the lineup. The Lasalle Secondary graduate was far and away her
team's most dangerous offensive weapon, pounding out 19 kills as the Shield stopped the Vipères in four sets, 25-16, 29-27, 14-25, 25-22.
Northern Chill alumni Alison LaBrash and Teagan Langis slid in at number two and three of the scoring charts, adding seven and five kills
respectively, while Amanda Lawson hit double digits in digs, with ten.
Meanwhile, coach Tom Sutton and the Cambrian men will have to wait until January for the next shot at securing their first victory of the
2018-2019 season, after dropping a five set marathon to Boréal, 20-25, 22-25, 26-24, 25-23, 9-15.
Despite being clearly the focal point of the Vipères defensive efforts, Lucas Claveau still managed to add an additional eight kills to his
season stat-line, with freshman Jason Nadeau leading the way with nine.