How a new cricket pitch could bring major tournaments to Topeka

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Before the Sunflower State Games kicked off this year, the cricket competition needed a place to play.

"They wanted to do dirt,” Aaron Nelson, groundskeeper for the games, said. “They've used a lot of concrete fields, and they didn't really like the concrete."

"We're trying to build it more in line with the international standards,” Francis Mascarenhas, cricket commissioner for the Sunflower State Games, explained.

Forty hours of work and four tons of dirt later, the new pitch at the Sunflower Soccer Association is home to this year's cricket tournament.

"We just started on Monday, and we've been dumping dirt and grinding it out and dumping dirt and patting it down for days, on days, on days,” Nelson said.

The new pitch could mean big things future of the sport in the Capital City.

"I think going forward we'll be using it for all the major tournaments in and around Kansas,” Mascarenhas said. “This is the first tournament they're actually participating in this area this year. The rest of the tournaments happen in Kansas City or Wichita, so the players are very excited for this opportunity."

"Cricket, it's in our blood,” Nakul Thakul, a competitor in this year’s games, said. “We play cricket and we like it, that's why we just wanted to continue it here."

For now, the pitch in place is temporary, but Nelson said construction on the new, permanent pitch is set to start this week. He plans to have it finished in time for the championship round of action next weekend.

Mascarenhas hopes the new pitch means Topeka will be home to future tournaments of the growing sport.

"I am very excited actually, I've seen the game grow over the last five years,” Mascarenhas said.