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Come summer in Halifax, they’re a familiar sight on the commons. Often wearing their team jerseys, with those distinct overhand “bowls” towards the wicket and rectangle-shaped bats. These are Halifax’s cricket players, representing various clubs, all are members of the Nova Scotia Cricket Association.

Amit Joshi is not only a die hard fan and talented player, he’s also president of the association. It’s a role that was waiting for him.

An accomplished player in India, when he moved to Canada 15-odd years ago for school Amit figured his cricket playing days were behind him. “I thought cricket was done,” he says “like, who would ever play cricket in a place like Halifax?”

Even when one of his classmates told him “they play cricket here!” he assumed it wouldn’t be at the level he was accustomed to. Then, one bright summer day out on the commons, he was overjoyed to find a group of people immersed in a serious game, and he joined in.

“It was a pick-up league, more so” he explains, but he says he right away noticed the players’ passion and skill. He realized there was room for a more organized way for people to play his beloved sport in Halifax. And so, the Halifax Cricket League was born.

“From there we haven’t looked back,” says Amit “it has grown leaps and bounds.” Today, the Nova Scotia Cricket Association has more than 200 players, organized into 4 clubs (including the Halifax Cricket League.) Each club with their own board, teams and fundraising initiatives, Amit says the structure is “kind of like hockey.”

A team photo of two rows of Cricket players wearing blue jerseys that say Nova Scotia on the front.

The Nova Scotia Men’s Cricket Team 2018, Amit Joshi is back row, second from right.

What’s interesting, though not surprising with cricket’s worldly origins, is that the majority of the players are immigrants, “we have Australians, players from England, players from India, Bangladesh, Pakistan… players from the Caribbean Islands as well,” says Amit. He thinks there might be representation from almost every cricket-playing country in the association, and says “we embrace the diversity.”

For many years, most of the players were also students. Amit describes how they would spend a few years playing on a team, and then would move elsewhere in Canada for work. However, the past several years Amit has noticed a wonderful development: What he calls “a core group of players,” have found jobs in Halifax, put down roots, and continue playing cricket every weekend. It was, in part, their love for the game, their team, and the built-in network of support, which influenced their decision to stay.

“Cricket can be a very social game,” explains Amit, “it’s a long game, which means you are with those players for a long time together.” When you spend enough time with a group of people, a natural bond begins to happen. Beyond the games and practices, they players spend time together socially. “They become friends, they’re part of the same community,” says Amit, “it’s a very, very tight group.”

You might say, it’s become a family.

One thing is certain, the family is getting bigger. Amit says with the increase of IT jobs available, and the Nova Scotia Immigration Nominee program “the amount of people coming in here, they all want to play cricket,” he says, “our numbers are only going to grow.”

The association is gearing up for their summer season, beginning end of May. An impending challenge is to make space for the association’s expanding needs. “Infrastructure is our biggest, biggest concern,” says Amit, “we only have one ground, which is the commons.” He says the association has been advocating for a dedicated ground for several years, and hopes that with increased exposure, and reaffirming the game’s positive impact on the community, the city will be willing to help.

The Family Bonds & Belonging exhibition at the Museum explores the many different definitions of family through time and across the country. In the section about creating family by association, visitors will encounter the Nova Scotia Cricket Association’s story, as well as a display of the provincial team’s jersey, team portrait, bat and balls. Amit feels very proud of this display, “it’s fantastic exposure for us,” he says “it’s an honour for us, for our association, for our players and members.”

Visitors can see the cricket display in Family Bonds & Belonging this spring, summer and fall. The exhibition is on until November 3rd. As for taking in a real cricket game, Amit welcomes any and all to watch practices and games, and learn more about the sport this summer. The Nova Scotia Cricket Association’s summer league begins May 31st.