For many who play it, the sport is ingrained in their culture — so much so that even in a country where the sport is virtually unknown, they find the time and the space to enjoy it.
"I love cricket," Ellicott City resident Arun Bangalor said. "It's in my blood."
Bangalor is one of 288 people participating in Howard County Recreation and Park's new adult cricket league.
Cricket, a sport similar to baseball, originated in England and is now the second most popular sport in the world, according to mostpopularsports.net, behind only soccer.
Like baseball, it involves batting and fielding. But in cricket, pitching is called bowling and instead of four bases there are two wickets, spread 22 yards apart on the pitch, the central strip of the field.
The batsman, as he is called in cricket, can score by hitting the ball and running to the opposite wicket. However, there are other ways to score and other rules that differentiate the sport from baseball.
The Howard County cricket league was formed this past spring after recreation and park officials realized a significant number of people were using the baseball fields at Meadowbrook Park in Ellicott City and other unoccupied fields to play the sport.
"Anywhere that we can find an open spot, we would go and play," said Ellicott City resident Murali Padamanaban, who worked with Howard County recreation supervisor Derek Ludlow to help form the official league.
Venky Natarajan, another of the league's founders, said he and some other players have been holding cricket games in Howard County for seven years. Since they started, he said, the number of players has grown, simply from word of mouth.
"Fun meets passion," is how Natarajan describes the game. But he admits competitiveness is playing more of role as the league grows, especially now that it's official.
The cricket field, which will overlay the two multi-purpose fields with the pitch in the open space between them, will allow the league to double its team capacity starting next spring. Registration for the 2013 spring season, scheduled to run from April to July, begins in November
Another founding player of the league, Ellicott City resident Vijay Easwaran, said the fun of the game and league helps him relax on the weekends. Like the majority of players in the league, Easwaran is Indian. The sport is extremely popular in that Asian country.
"We have a very big Indian community here (in Howard County)," Easwaran said.
John Dondapati, of Baltimore, was born in India, and he grew up playing cricket.
"In India, you either watch or you play cricket," he said. "It's like a religion for us."
He said the sport of cricket has three formats: The longest version of the game lasts about five days, a shorter format lasts eight to nine hours and the shortest, the one most often played in leagues across the United States, lasts three hours.
"It's very entertaining, a lot of action," Dondapati said.
Bangalor said he's been playing cricket for 20-some years and has a 12-year-old son who he's training to play.
Ludlow said the county is considering forming a youth cricket league.
"There's plenty of kids around this area who would want to play," Bangalor said.
Many of the players in the league live in Howard County, but some come from neighboring jurisdictions.
Prashanth Reddy, a doctoral student at Towson University, currently travels to Howard County every weekend for games from New York City, where he has an internship. He was introduced to the league in 2009 by Bangalor and has been playing in Howard County ever since.
"I like all of my friends, my teammates," he said.
Reddy, who played on the cricket team at the University of Agricultural Sciences in Bangalore, India, was named the top bowler (a position equivalent to the pitcher in baseball) in the spring league.
Though many of the players in the league are people who grew up watching or playing the sport as a part of their culture, they welcome others to get involved.