New season kicks off in Mexico

By Yasir Patel

Cricket has been played in Mexico since 1827. It has mainly comprised of foreign expatriates just looking for a knock on a free day. However, recent developments show a change in this pattern.

Currently Mexico City has four teams. There are also teams in Cancun and Puebla, with the aim of developing two more teams in Puerto Valleta and Guadalajara. The main cricket is played at the multi-sport Reforma Club in Naucalpan, which also hosts football and tennis. It has kindly let the association use its ground for free.

The current club captain is Yasir Patel, a British citizen who teaches mathematics at Lancaster School. Mexico City comprises of approximately 60 players of which there are only five Mexican born players.

The season consists of a cup competition (Brian Gay Trophy) where each team plays the others once, a league, started over 10 years ago, where teams play each other twice and the season opening 6-a-side tournament which helps integrate new players into the club. The current champions of both major competitions, going into the new season, which starts today, are the Aztecs.

The league has some very good players in Kaushal Ahuja, Tushar Gupta, Hugo Van Belle, Keith Foster -the current chairman and a long standing member of the club - Gulshan Ahuja, Rishi Taneja and Yasir Patel. The Mexican players deserve a mention for their passion for the sport; Javier Gonzalez, Jose Reyes, Nauman Khan, Labrija Santiago and Arturo Apaez.

The league used to be heavily dominated by the Aztecs, which led to the committee splitting and mixing teams up. Currently the teams are Aztecs, Reforma, Corinthians and Mexico Cricket Club. Each year eleven players are selected to represent Mexico versus Houston twice a year, once in Houston and once at home in Mexico City.

Mexico are the current Central American champions and will be hoping to defend their title in March in Costa Rica. In addition, Twenty20 tour has been planned to El Salvador which will include the hosts, Costa Rica and Belize. A trip to Cancun has also been penned in for May. Discussions are also going on to play Colombia, Chile and Belize.

The current youth development programme involves approximately 50 players and a scheme called the Children s University is hoping to increase this figure. The association is hoping to bring some young players through for the first time this year into the seniors competition. They are currently trained at various schools in Mexico and play three competitions each year.

Cricket is unique in Mexico due to the nation s obsession with football, easily the main sport in the country. Cricket is often confused with croquet, but there seem to be signs of this changing. However, in order for the association to gain further recognition from the ICC, they need to involve the government, which currently does not acknowledge cricket, increase youth development, increase team numbers to eight and involve women in the sport.

Like most western cricketing countries, it is not tequila which the spectators sip at the Reforma Club, but beer.