History

Our History

Cricket has been a part of the Iowa landscape for more than a decade and a half.  From humble beginnings, it has spread to encompass teams from across the breadth of the state participating in the Heartland Cricket League.

 

The first cricket league in Iowa was established in Cedar Rapids in 1995.  From 1995 to 2002 between six to ten teams participated annually in this taped tennis ball cricket league.  For a couple of years, a team from Chicago (comprised primarily of Sri Lankan heritage travelled all the way to Cedar Rapids every week to compete in this league).  Sadly, a terrible accident during one of their trips ended their participation. Every Saturday, the cricket matches (some times as many as 3 games at the same time) were played at the Noel Ridge Park Baseball grounds.  After 2000, the University of Iowa also participated in these games. 

 

In 1998, a clay pitch was built in Seminole Valley Park (further west of where the current pitch is located) as players wanted to play with a hard leather cricket ball, thanks to the many who were instrumental in this effort.  During these days, to appease their appetite for cricket they traveled to Omaha once or twice a year and play against Omaha Cricket Club at N.P. Dodge Park on jute matting placed over a hard clay pitch.  The Cedar Rapids team also travelled to Des Moines and to the Maharishi University at Fairfield, IA to play with leather ball cricket on closely shaved grass pitches(sometimes carrying the half Jute Mat along with them). 

 

However, this was short-lived as the Seminole Valley cricket ground had to be abandoned without much use due to constant flooding of the Cedar River, which flows adjacent to the ground. The City of Cedar Rapids provided another ground at Tait Cummin’s Park in 2000.  This time instead of laying a clay pitch, the grass was mowed very short. Cricket was played there for few years, but always using taped tennis balls.   Due to the economic downturn in 2001-2002, slowly cricket died in Cedar Rapids, but picked up in the Des Moines Area.  The Knights Cricket Club (the first formally organized cricket club in Iowa), in the absence of a proper ground to play on in Des Moines, used to travel to Omaha almost every Saturday to play a double header against NCC/OCC during 2000 to 2003.

 

It took the Knights Cricket Club around 3 years starting in 2000 to save up the $3600 required to lay the concrete slab and carpet down in the Park now known as Holiday Park Oval.  During the three years leading up to the pitch, cricket was  played in Des Moines on a fairly regular basis against ISU, UI and Cedar Rapids cricket teams on grass wickets with unpredictable bounce, which incidentally made for exciting matches.  Through Mr. Vamsee Sistla's efforts, and with the support of Mr. Gary Scott, Knights Cricket Club built the first of many cricket grounds in Iowa in 2003.  (Mr. Gary Scott was later "knighted" by KCC as Sir Gary Scott and given the honorary title of "Lifetime Captain of the Knights Cricket Club").

 

The Elite Cricket Club was the only other cricket club during that time in Des Moines Area.  KCC split their club members into two cricket teams and decided to start the Cricket League of Iowa in the fall of 2003 with the help of Mr. Gau Sura, Mr. Aziz Mohammed, Mr. Saket Pradhan, Mr. Mayuresh Mahatme and many other Knights & Elite CC veterans.  With the help of Mr. Sashank Ganti, the league signed up ISU, who benefited from generous help from Mr. Atul Amin (Atul Bhai) and the University was able to get a team together.  After casting a wide net in Iowa, the DSM consortium approached the Quad Cities expatriate community and was able to bring them into the fold.  They called themselves the QC Kings and also laid down a rather awkward looking pitch in Moline, which was a bit difficult for the rest of the league to come to grips with.

 

Thus the inaugural season of the Cricket League of Iowa kicked off on 8th May, 2004 between Elite CC and Knights Blues in which Knights CC won by 128 runs.  

 

Suffice it to say, the Knights Cricket Club were a strong cricket team as most of their players were together for a couple of years prior to 2003 and it had a very strong nucleus, thus winning the first two editions in 2004 and 2005 before Cedar Rapids All Stars, who joined the league in 2005, won it all. In 2006, CR All Stars were crowned as champions though the finals didn’t take place as Knights were not available to play it during the scheduled weekend. Towards the end of 2006, QC Kings decided to cut their ties with the CLIA and joined the Midwest Cricket Conference as they were closer to Chicago and also able to get most of their games played at home, due to the limited number of grounds in Chicago area and large number of teams.  The teams from the Cricket League of Iowa started playing in the Omaha Challenger Series and Kansas City T20 Cricket tournaments from 2007 onwards.  In  2007, Knights Cricket Club won the championship and took the cup back home to Des Moines.  In 2008, NCC was approached to join the Cricket League of Iowa & due to a feud in the past it took a while for the then president Mr. Sashank Ganti to convince them to join.  Elite Cricket club won the championship in 2008 followed by Iowa Bulls in 2009. As two teams from Nebraksa joined the league in 2010, the Cricket League of Iowa changed its name to the Heartland Cricket League in 2010.   The inaugural edition of Heartland Cricket League, in 2010, was won by the Cedar Rapids Kings.

 

The 2011 edition of the HCL was fought between 9 teams (CR All Stars, CR Kings, Elite CC, Iowa Bulls, Iowa Hawkeyes, ISU CC, ISU Warriors, Knights CC & Nebraska Cricket Club).  In order to make the format more exciting, the HCL expanded the tournaments to conduct two tournaments – a traditional 30 over version for the League Championships and a shorter, T20 version.  The Cedar Rapids Kings retained their crown and won the 2011 HCL Championship.  The T20 champions were Nebraska Cricket Club.

 

Currently the HCL has access to the following fields.

 

Madrid Temple Cricket Ground, Des Moines, IA.

Holiday Park Oval, Des Moines, IA.

Freedom Park, Omaha, NE.

Seminole Valley Park, Cedar Rapids, IA.

University of Iowa Cricket Ground, Iowa City, IA.

Iowa State University Cricket Ground, Ames, IA.

University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls, IA.

 

 The Heartland Cricket League players and followers would like to thank Mr. Saket Pradhan, Mr. Aziz Mohammed and Mr. Mayuresh Mahatme, the Founders of the Cricket League of Iowa, now the Heartland Cricket League. The HCL members are also grateful to each and everyone involved in participating and promoting the growth of the league.  From its humble beginnings, it has spread to encompass teams in 5 cities and organizes tournaments in multiple formats every year.  None of this would be possible without all the behind-the-scenes hard work that goes one every off-season.

 

You have an opportunity to make a difference: Run for the office and try to affect any change you feel would make the Heartland Cricket League better.

 

Let us ALL try to achieve greatness and strive to make the Heartland Cricket League even more successful.

 

Here's hoping for continued greatness from the HCL…May it live long and prosper.

 

Thanks for Reading.