The cricket pitch at Gordon Chaplin Park in Cambridge was vandalized last month, just two weeks after the cricket pitch in Waterloo Park was damaged by fireworks.
“Our league is jeopardized cause of this,” said Pramod Shetty, who plays in and manages the Southern Ontario Cricket Association (SOCA).
While damage at Waterloo Park was minimal and allowed games to continue, the cricket pitch at Chaplin park will need to be replaced as it is torn up and ripped.
Shetty said SOCA has 42 teams that play in the region, and they often use Chaplin’s pitch for games and practices. With only four cricket pitches offered in Waterloo region, cricket players said the loss of one is devastating.
“It’s very, very tough to reschedule the matches, so we had nine matches that had to be cancelled,” said Shetty.
Cricket players said the act of vandalism follows some complaints.
“When the game is happening, sometimes people come to the grounds and say it’s a public park,” said Chandru Muthukumaravel, a cricket player part of SOCA.
Muthukumaravel said a cricket pitch is the same as any other public sports field, and they have a right to use it.
“We book the ground ahead and talk to the city to block it for a reason we feel that has to be respected,” said Muthukumaravel.
Members of the cricket community are concerned there may be other motives behind the incident.
“We as a fraternity believe it was a racially motivated kind of incident,” said Shetty.
Waterloo Regional Police said the incident is under investigation.
Chris Ziemski, the city of Cambridge’s parks operations manager, said it will cost up to $15,000 to install a new pitch at Chaplin’s park and estimates it could take a few more weeks until they get the new turf, citing supply chain issues.
In the meantime, Ziemski said city staff are considering other options to meet the demand for the growing sport.
“We’re looking at a few other locations right now in preparation for possibly the next season,” said Ziemski.
The cities of Waterloo and Kitchener said they’re also exploring options to accommodate the need for more spaces to play cricket.
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