Cricket-mania strikes

They’re called the Grasshopper Cricket League.

This spring, a group of ARHS students have been training on the school track, preparing for a season of cricket matches.

The league is divided into two teams, Club East and Club West. “Club West is Club Best,” said Ben Gilsdorf, a member of Club West.

Practices are loosely structured, and players meet twice a week. “We kind of straggle in, come when we can, and leave when we want. We scrimmage a lot,” said Ellie Barakso, also of Club West and a self-described “devout member of the group.”

Inclement weather and a surprise snow day on April 4 delayed the start of the season. The team is eager to have a game when the weather will be a little better,” said Louis Triggs.

Triggs is the organizer of the entire league. “He is the godfather of cricket,” said Gilsdorf. Originally from England, Triggs wanted to introduce his peers to a sport that runs in his family.

“My dad was a semi-professional cricketer. He often played with professional players casually on weekends,” said Triggs.

Triggs went to a boarding school in England, where the four main sports were croquet, cricket, soccer, and rugby. “Cricket was the one I loved,” he said. “I thought it would be cool to bring that here [to Amherst], so that students could have a chance to play something new.”

The idea to form a team sprung up from a spontaneous cricket game on Dialogue Day last year. “We used tin foil for the ball and our hands as bats,” said Triggs. “And then somebody said, ‘We should have a cricket club.’”

Triggs and others began asking around for interested individuals. About 60 people responded to their inquiry, exceeding their initial expectations.

“But not all 60 showed up, which was a bit of a relief to be honest, because we couldn’t manage that many people,” said Triggs. “But it was really cool to have something snowball like that.”

Currently, five to 10 members show up to practice regularly on each side. Triggs has talked to several teachers about being advisors for the club. “Eventually, we will try to make it official,” he said.

Club East is led by captain Peter Treyz and vice captain Malcolm Blinder. “Akshat Dhankher is also playing a big role on that team,” said Triggs.

Triggs heads Club West as captain. “Max Hopley is a star player,” said Gilsdorf. “He brings his skills from baseball to the cricket field—there’s a lot of overlap.”

Although practices are casual, both teams are competitive. “The learning curve is fast,” said Dhankher, “so it’s nice to see everyone improve so quickly and get to a higher level of playing.”

In late June, there will be a final match to determine a league champion. “I’d like to win,” said Barakso.

But more than anything, the players are in it for the fun. “Cricket is very easy to pick up. We’re all very welcoming of people of all skill levels,” said Dhankher.

Triggs has high hopes for the season. “I want to get enough games in that people can feel that they’ve really had a chance to play this sport,” he said. “Then they can say, ‘Oh, I played cricket in high school,’ and someone will be like, ‘What, did you really?’ That’s the goal.”