Click here to watch the news story on Channel 6 News

Cricket Invasion Imminent

Bartlesville is on the verge of becoming the Cricket Capital of the Midwest.

When the city’s new cricket field is officially opened next Saturday, Bartlesville will boast the best playing facility north of southern Texas and throughout at least a four-state area, Tyler Vaclaw of Bartlesville Cricket Club explained.

The field is located at The Charlie Daniel & Julie Daniels fields, located directly west of Cooper Dog Park.

Vaclaw said the local club already has received interest from out-of-state teams to play at the facility.

“This will literally be the best cricket field north of Houston in our area of the country,” said Vaclaw. “People from all over the state and all over the region are willing to drive to Bartlesville to play cricket. … We’re going to get our tax revenue up very quickly.”

Bartlesville is part of a 12-team league that plans to put the new field to busy use.

What makes the Bartlesville field unique is it conforms to the regulation size for a cricket field — which allows batters to put the ball in play anywhere in a 360-degree circle from the equivalent of a batter’s box.

The Bartlesville cricket field the dimensions of two soccer fields, which meet the 150-to-180 yards in diameter requirement everywhere from the batter’s box.

In many cities, the cricket facility is based on baseball field-like layout, which prevents the 360-degree radius.

“It’s like playing baseball in a batting cage,” Vaclaw said. “Typically, those fields are 70 to 85 yards in diameter. Plus, the requirement to play cricket is to have a hard surface.”

Vaclaw, fellow Bartlesville Cricket Club officials Mayur Kulkarni, and others oversaw the fundraising efforts to build the facility, whose centerpiece is a 10-by-100 cement pad where the pitcher (bowler) delivers the ball on the bounce to the batter.

The batter can blast the ball in any direction — including an upward flip to send it soaring over his head in the opposite direction.

The club previous utilized the area behind the Sooner Park pool.

Due to the growing Middle Eastern Indian population, requests to the city for a usable cricket field increased.

“Lisa Beeman came to me and asked me to come up with a solution,” said Vaclaw. “I found there wasn’t a place in Oklahoma, of the four-state area, that has a cricket field with the right competitive space.”

The search for a place to play settled on the Daniels Fields, which feature two full soccer fields laying side by side.

 The cricket pad has been poured — and artificial turf glued on top — between the two fields.

But, prior to that, the funds for the project needed to be raised.

“In mid-February we started the campaign after we received approval to utilize the Daniels Fields,” Vaclaw said.

The club partnered with the local Play for Burk Foundation to accumulate the needed finances.

Clint Hansen, whose son the foundation is named for, and Randy John were among those who worked with the club.

“We were able to raise ample funds and we’ve been able to buy additional equipment,” Vaclaw said. “Hopefully this is just the first step in bringing cricket to a great prevalence to the area.”

In addition, the club utilized the services of its members and local Boy Scouts to pour the cement pad and prepare it for the carpet.

 Vaclaw is hoping lighting eventually will be added.

Even before the field is put into use, Bartlesville already is attracting attention from throughout the country — and beyond

“The International Cricket Counsel contacted me,” he said. “They recently opened a U.S. branch in Colorado Springs.”

The sport is growing in bigger cities. Fayetteville boasts 14 teams, Dallas features 20 squads and Kansas City fields 9 teams.

Many of these teams could have serious interest in coming to Bartlesville to play on the new field, Vaclaw said.

The Bartlesville YMCA will be responsible for working with the club to schedule the facility and to set different times for soccer games and cricket matches.

“Bartlesville has blown the standard for cricket fields out of the water,” Vaclaw said.

A cricket match is played between two squads of 11 players and may last up to four hours.

The pitcher is known as the bowler and he delivers the ball to the batter, which is known as the batsman or striker.

A home run (ball hit beyond the field boundary) is worth six runs. Teams also score runs when, after the ball is put in play, the batter and alternate batter on the opposite side of the pitch, run as many times as they can end-to-end before the play ends.

A striker can be declared out in many different ways.

The team on defense utilizes all its players, except for the bowler and wicket keeper, in the field, most of them in the outfield to try to cover the 360-degree radius.

Cricket is credited with influence on other sports.

Competitive cricket in Oklahoma began 15 years ago. Its roots in Bartlesville go back to the early 2010′s.

At noon next Saturday, the ceremonial ribbon on what Vaclaw indicated is the only completely regulation cricket field in the region is planned.

An exhibition match between the Bartlesville Cricket Club and the Green Country Cricket Club (Tulsa) is planned immediately after.