The U19 Team Manitoba cricket squad is happy they were able to have some fun with the Portage community.

The provincial team came to town yesterday for a community cricket event that saw locals get the opportunity to try out the sport. Manager for the U19 team Ray Ramrattan says cricket is becoming quite popular in Manitoba.

"We have a large league in Winnipeg with 47 teams," says Ramrattan. "A majority of the teams are from Winnipeg but we do have teams from Brandon and Winkler as well. Our league has four divisions and we compete on an annual basis. We also have junior programs."

Ramrattan says one of their main goals right now is to expand the game outside of Winnipeg and start bringing it to other areas of the province. He notes they have been quite successful in doing so in Brandon as they currently have five cricket teams.

"There is focus on expanding the sport to other municipalities in Manitoba," says Ramrattan. "Brandon just got a cricket field, it actually was built in August. So, next year we are looking forward to coming out to play in Brandon. We're hoping that places like here in Portage la Prairie will be able to get a ground and people from Portage can play and people in Winnipeg can come travel here as well."

The manager says a cricket field has similarities to a baseball diamond but needs a field of its own to be played properly. He adds it has an oval shape instead of a diamond with a line down the middle which is 22 yards in length.

Ramrattan says that line is the distance between the bowler (thrower of the ball) and the batsman (the hitter). He notes there are quite a few other similarities between cricket and baseball, especially when it comes to a player's skill-set.

Ramrattan says the growth of cricket in Manitoba has already begun to skyrocket.

"Four years ago, our number of teams count was in the twenties. So, within the last four years, we have added over 20 teams," Ramrattan explains. "As a matter of fact, during the COVID period, we have added a dozen teams. Our season was impacted, just like everyone else, because of COVID. We had a condensed season and even played a shorter version of the game in order to have cricket be played but still, there was growth over the last two years, which is amazing."

Ramrattan says he was very happy to see a new community get to learn about the sport at Republic Park yesterday. He notes they are hoping to come back with these events in the future to continue the growth of cricket in the Portage area.