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During the late 1970’s and 1980’s medical students from India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, South Africa, the United States, and Canada played cricket around the DR. There were as many as ten teams and many of the Universities had their own squads. But after the students left the county there was no formal cricket being played. A few years ago some new international students began playing the game once again and it had revived the interest in cricket. Cricket’s move from an obscure and foreign pastime and into the spotlight took place on 13 March 2006 with the creation of the Dominican Cricket Federation. Former British Ambassador Andy Ashcroft, former Canadian Ambassador Alvin Curling, Honorary Council of India Fernando Gonzales, and Dr. Shakil Khan got together and threw around the idea of forming a proper team. The team was formally recognized by Felix Payano and the Sports Ministry and the team has been formally recognized as the DR’s cricket team.

Though cricket in the country is taking its baby steps a framework for the game, and the Federation’s future success, is being created. The crowded sports scene in the DR makes the development of the league difficult, but the onus is on the league to take this game into the mainstream. Though the league is not by itself. The International Cricket Council (ICC), which is based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, the Melbourne Cricket Club (MCC), Alan Stanford, Alvin Curling (former Canadian Ambassador), Ian Worthington, (current British Ambassador), Alan Buckley (league vice president) and a host of other parties are putting forth not only their time, but also their own money to see this dream through.

The league counts on about 50 loyal participants and players play each Saturday or Sunday at the UASD between 2 and 6 in the afternoon. Though the majority of players are Indian, Pakistani or West Indians who are residing in the country about 12 Dominicans who have had previous contact with cricket are playing. The idea though is to popularize the sport enough so that is has a sustainable Dominican presence and that the Dominican Cricket team is made up of Dominicans.

Speaking with Dr. Shakil Kahn, who has seen the development of cricket in the DR since 1979, it is clear to see that the sport has come along way, but he isn’t shy about the reality that the sport has a long way to go. Kahn says that, “there are bad days, but we’ve come along ways in 25 years. We have uniforms, a team and equipment, so we must have done something right. A lot has been done, the legal part has been done and is in place. And we are building a foundation. By the end of the year this will be a reality. This is now! It’s reality.”

Kahn, who is also the President of the cricket federation in the DR, can be considered the architect of cricket’s future on the island, but he is quick to highlight the efforts of other contributors and is almost unwilling to take any real credit for the strides that the sport has made in the DR, rather continually shifting the conversation back to the players, the coaches and the many people who have decided that cricket in the DR is a great enough sport to invest such effort in. Kahn mentions the efforts of Roberto Herrera, Elsa Tunel and Ian Worthington and though there are too many names to name it is a combined effort to make the league successful.

Standing in the way of cricket’s diffusion is the expensiveness of the sport with gear and equipment costing around US$300 per player or more and the lack of equipment found locally. But this is not enough to deter a goal. Kahn explains that if necessary “we will improvise and we could make some things locally, at a carpenter.” But the future looks bright for cricket on this island. “Dominicans are good at cricket and don’t know it yet, though the excitement is one sided since Dominicans don’t realize the scope of things. Dominicans are very sports minded which adds to the possibilities, but they are intrigued. Dominicans are interested.”

The difference between cricket and other smaller sports in the DR is that it has a community component to it where the goal is to be community oriented and better citizens at the same time. English classes along side with cultural, educational and social education will all be a part of the Federation as it develops. The next step is creating youth and women’s teams and recently Alan Buckley has started a youth cricket program in Puerto Plata with about 70 participants. It is the first of its kind in the DR and the hope is to have more cricket academies around the nation. The team will eventually be recognized by the Dominican Olympic Committee, another large step, and the ICC has already recognized the league and its teams. The DR has two teams already organized in Santo Domingo with talk of a third team being incorporated in Puerto Plata and a fourth team in San Pedro de Macoris. Though the Dominican team is still not ready for international competitions the goal is to have the team ready for play in 2008 and the team has already received invitations to play in Puerto Rico, Costa Rica, Panama, Cuba as well as an invitation to the Stanford 20/20 tournament. Cricket is similar to baseball, a sport which Dominicans have had great success with. At the same time Dominicans have grown up playing, la plaquita a rudimentary version of cricket, so it seems that once the sport creates a niche in the DR there is no telling the success it will have. The building blocks for the success of the sport in the country are in place now it’s just a matter of bringing all the pieces together and letting the public know that there is a new sport out there for the public to enjoy.
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