In March 2010 a cricket team from the College of Wooster played in the 2nd American College Cricket Spring Break Championship, then last month Wooster competed in the Midwest Championship for the E Gordon Gee Trophy.

Photo: Cricket crowd at Wooster's Joseph P Papp Stadium at the school's Homecoming.

This Homecoming Wooster President Grant Cornwell decided to give the cricket club a place in the spotlight. After all, the college has a large number of international students and alumni, and the match would be a great way to showcase diversity, both on campus and in the community.

The saga began earlier this year when Earlham College dropped out of the North Coast Athletic Conference, leaving the Fighting Scots football team with an opening on Oct. 9. It was too late to change the date for Homecoming and too late to find another team, meaning the stadium would be vacant on this traditional day of celebration for the first time in the 112 years of intercollegiate football at Wooster.

Coincidentally, this year’s Forum — Wooster’s annual fall lecture series — focused on South Asia, where cricket is extremely popular. Last week, Cornwell added another element to the plan by attempting to draw the largest crowd ever to watch a college cricket match in the U.S.

College officials scrambled to find the current record, which was pegged at 400 at a game organized by American College Cricket last year. Word spread quickly across campus and throughout the community, and by late Saturday afternoon, a record 967 fans had filled into John P. Papp Stadium to watch the college’s cricket team take on a team from the community consisting of professionals in business and industry who had played in their native countries before relocating to the U.S.

“Words aren’t enough to express what Wooster’s accomplishment means,” American College Cricket President Lloyd Jodah said, “In our effort to make cricket once again a true American college sport this Homecoming event is of enormous significance and truly historic.”

The community team batted first and scored 141 runs, but the Wooster college team charged back, and team captain Maaz Khan delivered a dramatic game-winning boundary with just one wicket remaining to give the college team an exciting 143-141 victory.

“This event is very representative of The College of Wooster,” said Cornwell. “It’s what makes us distinctive.”

Cricket was the original American college sport, with the first college sports team being a cricket team at Haverford College in 1834. The game remained the premiere sport in the USA until about the 1880’s and crowds of thousands watched the first International sporting event, a cricket game USA vs Canada, in 1844 in New York.