SARASOTA — Srinivas Kadiyala sat back and watched in sheer disbelief, as his fellow batsmen fell victim to the bowler’s speed and precision.
Recognizing his own limitations, the Sarasota resident grabbed his bat as his turn approached and began the trek out to the pitch. But, rather than taking his place in front of the wicket, Kadiyala walked over to the professional bowler and gave him a few friendly words of advice.
“I said, ‘Sir, I’m in awe of how beautiful (of a bowler) you are, but I don’t have the reaction skills (to keep up with you),’” Kadiyala says with a laugh. “I realized then how much different of a skill set it is.”
A native of India, Kadiyala grew up playing cricket on street corners, and it was during those friendly sessions with family and friends that Kadiyala discovered a sport that has since become a way of life.
“Cricket is nostalgic,” Kadiyala says. “I began playing it when I was a kid, and I saw how it was played and the spirit of the game. It’s fun.”
Cricket is similar to baseball in that it is a bat-and-ball game between two teams of 11 players on a field. A 22-yard pitch lies in the middle of the field where the batsman tries to hit the ball to score runs while the bowler tries to throw off the batsman with his speeding and timing.
A run is scored if the batsman hits the ball with his bat and is able to run to the opposite end of the pitch and touch the crease without being dismissed. The team with the most runs after both teams have batted wins the game.
Ten years ago, Kadiyala joined the Sarasota International Cricket Club through which he has since developed camaraderie with about 40 other individuals who all share a similar passion for the sport.
Through the Sarasota International Cricket Club, members have the opportunity to travel the world playing the game they love while also meeting players from other clubs, as well as players from professional leagues who often stop by when passing through the area.
“Cricket is a way of life,” Kadiyala says. “You meet people from all walks of life who come because of their love of the game. We have people from as far away as Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.”
This week, the Sarasota International Cricket Club once again will open its lawn for the annual Sarasota Six-A-Side Festival. Cricket clubs from across the world will vie for the coveted Festival Shield during the festival, which runs from Nov. 21.
“We all share this bond of cricket,” Kadiyala says. “We pride ourselves on being good hosts, and we all have such a good time.”
The Sarasota International Cricket Club is unique in that it does everything from construction to maintenance and yard work. There’s not a day that goes by that one of the members, including Kadiyala, who regularly mows the lawn, among other tasks, isn’t at the club making sure the club is being maintained.
“The people are the real reason why the club flourishes,” Kadiyala says. “It’s a real community effort. This place is a labor of love.”
The Sarasota International Cricket Club is open year round; however, the season typically runs from late September or early October through May, with teams from across the world visiting from January through March.
“It’s amazing to be in the presence of greatness,” Kadiyala says. “There’s a parade of international cricket players who come from all parts of the world to visit, and it’s just humbling to see them.”
Games are typically played Saturdays and Sundays, and members come together to share an afternoon of cricket, conversation and camaraderie.
“It’s very enjoyable to spend the day out here,” Kadiyala says. “It’s a very intellectual and diverse group of people. The diversity really makes a big influence.
“We may be legends in our own mind, but what we lack in talent we more than make up for in enthusiasm,” Kadiyala says.
For more information on the Sarasota International Cricket Club, visit sarasotacricket.com.