There’s a new sport in town
While pickleball is claimed as the fastest-growing sport in the United States, another sport is quickly making a mark in Lynnfield and beyond.
The North Shore Cricket Club, the brainchild of Lynnfield residents Kailash Chintamani, Dr. Sanjay Aurora, and Abhinav Gupta, is now in its second season after a wildly successful first year.
The CEO of World IT Center, Chintamani is a strong believer in community development and strives to ensure fairness for all citizens and immigrants. He said his beliefs are the “very reason” why he started a club for cricket, which he grew up playing in India. Chintamani came to the United States to pursue a masters in information science at St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, Texas, following which he worked at several Fortune 500 companies. He and his wife, Shwetha Sudhindra, moved to Lynnfield with their son in 2018.
Chintamani said that cricket, which he played with other children in his neighborhood after school and on weekends when he was growing up, has always been a part of his life.
“I don’t remember the first time the bat and ball came into my life, but they have always been there,” said Chintamani, who serves as club president. “When I meet people who have been here in the United States, we all cherish these memories. NSCC presents this opportunity to bring us together as a community to relive the lives that we all miss today.”
Gupta is a software solutions architect at Microsoft in Burlington. He started playing cricket in middle school, and served as team captain during his school and college days.
Gupta focused on team building, strategic planning, and contributing as an “all-rounder.” He said he is highly influenced by cricketer Sourav Ganguly, and feels the key to the club’s success is good management with a healthy dose of social engagement.
Gupta moved to the U.S. in 2008. Like Chintamani, he and his wife, Swati Agrawal, moved to Lynnfield with their son in 2018.
“Since moving to Massachusetts, I have always felt the need for well-managed league cricket and making friends through social sport,” Gupta said. “My vision as an NSCC director is to promote community building, healthy lifestyle, and cricket in schools.”
Aurora is a neonatologist at Mass General Brigham, the director of neonatology at Holy Family Hospital, and an associate of neonatology at St. Elizabeth Hospital. He did graduate work at Boston Children’s Hospital and earned a master’s degree at the Harvard School of Public Health.
Aurora and his wife, Natasha Shah, and their two children have called Lynnfield home since 1997. Aurora described himself as an “avid sports enthusiast.”
“I love to play golf and tennis during the warm season, and ski and snowboard during the winter months, and I am so excited to be a founding board member and organizer of NSCC,” he said. “This club will bring cricket to our community.”
The league has a full-year schedule. In addition to traditional outdoor seasons in the spring, summer, and fall, the six-team league plays at Danvers Indoor Sports in the winter. Players hail from several area communities inducing Lynnfield, Lynn, Medford, Salem, Andover, and others.
From kids indoor and outdoor clinics to a new women’s league to the men’s league, the club has something for everyone.
The club celebrated its one-year anniversary with a league championship match at Lynnfield High last fall.
Excitement — along with plenty of sixers (cricket’s version of a home run in baseball) — was in the air as the Royals and Boston Youngsters battled to earn bragging rights as the best in the league. By the time the last ball had been bowled, the Youngsters prevailed, taking home the “rolling trophy,” which it has the honor of possessing until a new champion is crowned later this year.
“Today is a very special day for North Shore Cricket Club as it’s been quite an emotional journey that we started right here in Lynnfield,” Chintamani said before that match. “We started with just three board members, and now we are celebrating our first anniversary with 125 players.”
Family, friends, and fans lined the perimeter of the field. Among those spotted in the crowd were Essex County District Attorney Paul Tucker (D-Salem) and State Rep. Sean Garballey (D-Arlington). Both decided to take in the action after being invited by mutual friend Emran Baki, a co-founder and member of the Boston team.
John Wilson, executive vice president of sponsor World IT Center, said the club is the result of a collaborative effort with Gupta, Chintamani, and Aurora taking the lead position in growing the game.
“What you have here is a bunch of professionals, a very select group of people who have come together to promote the game among youth,” he said. “The game is English-born and bred that was taken to India and Southeast Asia and is now growing in the U.S. with the 2023 World Cup coming to Los Angeles. This club truly represents a nice gift to the community.”
Lynnfield Fields Director Joe Maney agreed.
“They are great guys. They’ve doubled the number of teams and players in just six months,” said Maney. “They follow the rules and are a pleasure. They just want to teach the game and we are lucky to have them.”
In the championship game, the Youngsters won convincingly, scoring 210 runs to the Royals’ 114. Noor Mohammed and Ahmed Habib led the Youngsters with 91 and 41 runs, respectively, while Niam Ahmed was the top bowler and took three wickets for 18 runs. Jay Patel paced the Royals with 24 runs, while bowler Raghavendran Mohan took three wickets for 48 runs.
The founders say that a top priority for the club is growing the game and expanding opportunities for young people.
“North Shore Cricket Club strives to promote cricket with various youth programs for the community,” said Chintamani. “We encourage parents, cricketers, and the young ones to be a part of this volunteer effort to teach cricket.”
Gupta credited Chintamani for using social media to build a Lynnfield team. The team participated in tournaments before starting its own team.
Gupta said the best thing about the game is “smashing balls out of the park if you are a batter or getting an opponent bowled out if you are a bowler.”
“People love to enjoy a short two-hour game of sport after a stressful day at work,” Gupta said. “Plus, it helps in networking and making friends.”