Posted on June 19, 2014

“I saw on the map of Kingston that there was a Cricket Field,” says Tahir. “Of course, it mattered much more that there were excellent professors researching at Queen’s in the area I wanted to study and research in, but knowing that there was a place to play cricket was a big incentive.” In Pakistan, Tahir's home country, cricket is a national obsession. 

Tahir was disappointed when he got to Kingston and found out that the Cricket Field was actually a baseball diamond. It turns out that the field was named over a century ago, thanks to Sir John A. Macdonald’s first cabinet in 1867 decreeing cricket as Canada’s national sport. The cricket ground had long been abandoned in favour of baseball. Only the name remains.

On his first day at Queen’s, his supervisor, Professor Michael Greenspan, allocated Tahir a space in the laboratory. Shortly afterwards, fellow student Salar Awan arrived. He introduced himself and within minutes, Salar asked Tahir if he played cricket. “We play recreational cricket on Friday afternoons,” said Salar, inviting Tahir along.

In 2012, after a year of playing recreationally, the ad hoc team were invited to play a ‘real leather ball match’ at McGill University. They began preparing but only had eight players and needed eleven in order to qualify. They managed to recruit two additional players but were still one short. By fluke, McGill ended up cancelling because of rain, none the wiser that at this end, the Queen’s Cricket team was still scrambling to find players.

Still, the opportunity to play other university teams got Salar and Tahir fired up. They approached Queen’s about getting club status. But first they had to prove there was a demand. Queen’s Recreation staff agreed to send out an email to the student population. It was expected that they would get about 30 or 40 responses. In the end 120 students registered. Now instead of having too few players, they had so many they scarcely knew what to do.

“It turns out I was not alone,” says Tahir, “Other students, many of them, had seen the Cricket Field on the map and they all had the same idea. We all wanted to play.” The students came from all over the globe; Australia, England, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, the West Indies, Jamaica, and one Canadian.

Queen’s Recreation endorsed the idea of a Cricket Club on a one year trial basis. Equipment was ordered, and a space for indoor cricket allocated. What emerged were a cricket club and a cricket team.

In the summer of 2013, the cricket team began playing inter-university league matches with trips to Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Brock University, Waterloo, and Ryerson. But while the cricket club flourished and indoor cricket proved immensely popular, two other things became apparent; the first was that there was a demand in the greater community for access to cricket, and secondly that an outdoor cricket pitch was needed.

Tahir and his friends got together a petition with 150 names and made a presentation to Kingston City Council. It turns out that Kingston has a rich history with cricket. Not only was it once such a popular game here that the inaugural Cabinet saw fit to name it the national game of the country, but Kingston also had at least two cricket grounds – including the one in City Park and another that has fallen into disuse, at the Memorial Centre.

This April, Kingston City Council voted unanimously to endorse a plan to have a cricket pitch in Kingston. The Memorial Centre has recently been finalized as the site and logistics are just being worked out.

“This has been important for us,” says Tahir, who stresses that it is not just his initiative and that there is large group of students and Kingston citizens working to make this happen. “Cricket has made our lives in Canada better. We have made friends not just with students from our home countries, but with others from all over the world through cricket and these relationships have spilled over into the community.”

With two billion cricket fans around the globe, cricket is second only to soccer in terms of world-wide popularity. Get set to see more cricket whites gracing the local parks of Kingston as cricket fever picks up momentum not just locally, but all across Canada.

Queen's Cricket Club A photo of the Queens & Kingston Cricket Team in Ottawa after victory in an indoor game. Front Row (L-R) - Nishan Singh Mann (PhD student), and Maroof Saeed Back Row (L-R) - Muhammad Ikram (PhD Student), Malik Mujahid, Tahir Ahmed (Captain, ECE PhD student), Farhan Zia, Nikhil Dhawan (ECE MSc Student), Nomain Hussain (Queen’s graduate). Photo courtesy of Tahir Ahmed.



Lindy Mechefske, Communications Officer
Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
June 2014