Rocky Mount will host a cricket tournament for the first time in the city’s history this weekend. The tournament, organized by the newly formed Rocky Mount Cricket Club, will feature 7 teams from around the state, including teams from the Triangle, High Point, and Wilson and two teams from Rocky Mount.
The tournament is scheduled to take place at Englewood Park this Sunday, September 3 beginning at 12 p.m., and it is planned to conclude around 10 p.m., with each match lasting 45–60 minutes. Trophies will be awarded to the tournament winner and runner-up, as well as individual awards for best batter, best baller, and man of the series. The winning team will also receive $500 while the runner-up will get $300.
The Abdul Ghaffar Khatri Tape-ball Tournament will be played in honor of Abdul Ghaffar Khatri, an important member of the community known for his friendliness and hospitality. The matches will use a tape-ball, a tennis ball wrapped in tape rather than the leather hard ball that is standard in international play and requires additional gear.
Free Pizza and drinks will be provided at the tournament.
The tournament will bring over 70 visitors to the area, and Maaz Razi, spokesperson for the Rocky Mount Cricket Club, hopes to see the tournament expand and bring in more teams in subsequent years as cricket grows in popularity in the United States and in our area.
Razi hopes that in addition to using cricket to bring more people to the area, the tournament will cause more people to take an interest in the sport. He said the Cricket Club is working alongside the city of Rocky Mount to plan cricket camps for local children to be available next year.
Cricket is the second most popular game in the world, following only soccer. It is especially popular in areas once part of the British Empire, as the game originated in Britain. The sport has gained popularity in the US recently, and several US cities will host 2024 Cricket World Cup matches including Morrisville, NC.
The Rocky Mount Cricket Club was formed as members of the community passionate about the sport reached out to various city officials about creating a space where they could play. The RM Cricket Club’s Inaugural Ceremony took place in July 2023.
Around 20 people, mostly local business owners, meet each Saturday night at Englewood Park to play cricket, which can be modified based on the number of players available, according to Razi. The Cricket Club would love to teach new people how to play. Razi says if you are familiar with baseball, it would be relatively easy to adapt to cricket even though there are some significant differences.
Razi emphasized that neither this tournament nor the Cricket Club would exist without so many partners working together throughout the community, particularly the Mayor, the Parks and Recreation Department, the Police Department, and others.
This weekend’s cricket tournament is a complete team effort, and Razi hopes it will showcase the city in a positive way while bringing a new, positive activity to the community.