By Craig White
Cricket has been played in the land of the Aztecs since 1827 and the Mexico Cricket Association from its home at The Reforma Athletic Club in Naucalpan is developing the game across Mexico.
One of the most notable developments has been the creation of a women’s side in less than two years. The team led by captain Caroline Owen beat Peru in the South American Championships in Bogotá in August 2018, to record their first international win at their first tournament. Following this success more women have joined the female teams in Mexico City and Guadalajara. Mexico swept the three-match T20I series against Costa Rica in April 2019 on home turf to be crowned the first women’s Central American champions. They beat Peru again a few months later at the South American Championships in Lima. In recognition of the Mexico Cricket Association’s efforts to grow the game, the national women’s team also won the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) award for the best Mother and Daughter’s programme in January 2019.
Male cricket is now taking place in four cities: Mexico City, Guadalajara, Monterrey, and newest member Queretaro. The first National Championship was held in 2018 at The Reforma Athletic Club, which was won by Guadalajara. Guadalajara won again in May 2019 when the competition was played at the University of Guadalajara. There are also regular inter-city series, and international bilateral series are taking place as well. McAllen Cricket Club in Texas made the trip over the border to play Monterrey in December 2019, with the series ending 1-1.
The expansion of men’s cricket outside the historic heartland of Mexico City, together with an increased player base, has strengthened the male national team, as shown by its undefeated run to win the South American Championships for a second time in 2018 under captain Tarun Sharma, and finishing as runner up in 2019.
The junior programme has advanced as well. Begun in 2015 at The Reforma Athletic Club on Sunday mornings the programme has spread to the Victoria school in Tequisquiapan, Wingates school in Mexico City, and to Prepa Tech Santa Anita in Guadalajara. Mexico sent its first U13 team to the Junior South American Championships in Santiago in 2017, where it failed to win a game. However, the side made a notable improvement in the 2018 edition in Buenos Aires, by beating Peru and Chile and picking up three players of the match awards. Last year in Lima the team overcame Peru and the might of Argentina A.
The Reforma Athletic Club has the second-highest international turf wicket in the world and is an attractive venue for international teams. England cricket great Fred Trueman toured in the 1970s as part of a British Airways team. Gary Lineker, Glenn Hoddle, and John Barnes wielded the willow in shorts when the England football team played against Mexico City Cricket Club in 1985 as part of their preparations for the World Cup the following year. More recently the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) visited in 2017 with a team containing Scottish internationals Alasdair Evans and the late Con de Lange. MCC came back in April 2019 for the seventh Central American Championships (CAC) where they were beaten in the final by Belize. The silver-plated CAC trophy was later briefly confiscated by Mexican customs!
Craig White is the Secretary of Mexico Cricket Association.
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