The Lancers Cricket Club in Cambridge is now on their third home since May 2021 due to vandalism that has destroyed two previous playing surfaces.
It took three years for the Lancers, who play in the United Friendly Cricket League, to secure their first pitch in Cambridge at Studiman Park last May. It was a facility the city was in need of says Lancers president Garry Sahota.
“There are very limited cricket pitches in the Region of Waterloo,” Sahota said.
“Interest in cricket is increasing day-by-day. We have 35 registered members in our club and we expect to grow past 50 next season.”
But before the season got rolling, vandalism made the pitch unplayable. Putting the team’s hopes of playing at home on hold. That’s when the city stepped in and by August of 2021 the team had a new pitch at Gordon Chaplin Park.
The newest pitch served as the team’s home until just over a month ago when they were again a target of vandalism.
“An official complaint was registered by the city of Cambridge to police,” Sahota said.
“That hampered our season. We had to reschedule and cancel a few of our games. There are 10 teams playing in this league and about 250 players were impacted.”
That’s when the city stepped up again, installing a new cricket pitch at the same location in the park. Sahota is hoping the third time's a charm when it comes to keeping the pitch playable.
While Sahota doesn’t know what sparked the vandalism and doesn't want to draw attention to the reason, he admits it doesn’t look good for the community that cricket players were the target.
“Currently most of the people playing cricket in the region are South Asians, with very few from European backgrounds,” he said.
“I don’t know the motive behind the vandalism but this gives a bad impression in the South Asian community," he said. "Players feel targeted. I don’t think this is the case, as many people come here to see and support us. This vandalism might have been done by some sick mind.”
The city, led by manager of parks and arena operations Chris Ziemski, said it continues to do its best to accommodate under frustrating circumstances.
“We have committed to look for other locations to play,” Ziemski said. “A temporary pitch was brought in while awaiting repairs to the damages.”
One of the other places cricket is played is Victoria Park, but errant balls have posed a problem in the past for the neighbouring community.
As for how the city plans to prevent further vandalism, there are current measures in place and more are being considered as they realize the damage causes significant problems for those looking to enjoy the sport.
“Staff regularly check parks, including on weekends,” Ziemski said. “We are working towards a greater security approach in time. These types of incidents impact many users, and cause serious league scheduling issues.”