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Player believes racism behind vandalism at cricket pitches in region

Player believes racism behind vandalism at cricket pitches in region

WATERLOO REGION — When Andrew Terry showed up to play cricket with his team — the Kitchener Wolves Cricket Club — the artificial turf was deliberately slashed and pulled apart.

Terry complained to the City of Cambridge after seeing what happened overnight on July 15 in Gordon Chaplin Park in South Preston.

Last year, his team played on a cricket pitch in a Hespeler park, but vandals built a big fire on the pitch and ruined it. That’s why the city built a new one in Gordon Chaplin Park.

Terry believes the vandals are motivated by racism. He is the only white player on his team, maybe the only one in the league. Almost all of the other players are from South Asia, mostly India.

Not long after they started playing cricket in Gordon Chaplin Park, nearby residents started complaining and then interrupting the games.

“We have had many experiences in that park,” he said. “We’ve had multiple incidents with neighbouring people.”

They complain about cricket balls hitting their fences. One man walks his dog through the field when games are underway, forcing everyone to stop.

“And he will accost players and say things like: ‘Why do you people need this whole park? Why do you think you deserve this whole park to play your game?’” said Terry. “So there has been a lot of hostility at times about this.”

The cricket pitch in Waterloo Park was also recently damaged by fireworks.

A cricket pitch consists of a rectangle of poured concrete that is covered with artificial turf. The batter stands at one end, and the thrower — or bowler, in cricket lingo — runs along the pitch and throws the ball at the batter. Without a pitch, there is no cricket game.

The City of Cambridge says it will cost $10,000 to $15,000 to repair the pitch in Gordon Chaplin Park and the work should be finished soon.

“At this time there has been no indication that this was a hate crime but police are investigating,” said Christopher Ziemski, manager of parks and recreation with the city. “We are working with our permitted cricket players to relocate to other pitches when possible.”

There are only four cricket pitches in Kitchener, Waterloo and Cambridge, so even the temporary loss of one is a big deal. The one in Kitchener is not ideal for a game, but OK for practice.

“The number of official teams or clubs that play vastly outnumber the pitches available to us,” said Terry.

There are two cricket leagues that use Waterloo Region’s four pitches. The league Terry plays in is called the Kitchener Friendly Cricket League. It has 10 teams and four of them use the cricket pitch in Gordon Chaplin Park.

The other league is the Southern Ontario Cricket Association with a dozen teams.

“In our club specifically, the Kitchener Wolves Cricket Club, we have two teams within one league,” said Terry. “We have almost 40 registered players.”

The City of Kitchener has one practice cricket pitch in the RBJ Schlegel Park, but it may build more following a review of recreation and leisure facilities, said Kim Kugler, the city’s director of sport.

Kugler said the city is aware of the growing need for suitable places to play cricket.

“In the interim, the city is looking into more immediate options for cricket users and hopes to have more information soon,” she said.

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Player believes racism behind vandalism at cricket pitches in region

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