COLUMBIA, MD – Howard County Executive Calvin Ball today officially opened the County’s sixth cricket pitch and first designated youth cricket pitch at Lake Elkhorn Middle School. The County entered into an agreement with the Howard County Board of Education last summer to construct and maintain the new cricket pitch. Pictures from the event can be found here.
Cricket’s popularity has boomed over the past several years in Howard County, and this new pitch is foundational for the growth of our youth cricket league. We have some of the best sports fields and engagement in our state, and we look forward to expanding Howard County’s reputation as the place to play cricket.
The pitch at Lake Elkhorn Middle is the sixth cricket pitch in Howard County, helping to meet the growing demand for fields and facilities to accommodate the popular sport. Other pitch locations include Schooley Mill Park, Murray Hill Middle School, Faulkner Ridge Center and Lake Elkhorn Middle School.
“This new pitch is the first in the County to be designated for youth,” said Raul Delerme, Director of Howard County Recreation and Parks. “It allows our younger players and teams the opportunity to practice eight months out of the year, including summer months and on evenings and weekends.”
"I often talk about schools serving as community centers for families and neighborhoods and I look forward to seeing the innovative ways our physical education teachers may leverage this new cricket pitch to teach their students a new activity that has become so popular in many cultures and countries around the globe, said HCPSS Superintendent Michael J. Martirano. "I am grateful that the Howard County Public School System and Board of Education were able to collaborate with our County partners on this project and I commend the County for their efforts to create spaces for our friends and neighbors to participate in this wonderful sport."
The need for field space for cricket players became apparent over a decade ago. In 2011, Howard County Recreation & Parks staff helped cricket players create a modified cricket pitch on the baseball fields at Meadowbrook Park. Soon after, in 2013, the County opened its first true cricket pitch at Schooley Mill Park.
County Executive Ball has frequently invested in the increasingly popular sport. In November 2020, the field and cricket pitch at Schooley Mill Park were expanded, increasing the artificial cricket pitch from 108 linear feet to 450 feet in size. The multi-use grass field was extended by approximately 80 square feet and re-sodded. These capital efforts helped Howard County secure the 8th annual National Youth Cricket League (NYCL) tournament in July 2021, bringing 93 teams from around the country to the area.
“I have been representing this community for the last 25 years, and I am thrilled that this pitch has been built,” said Senator Guy Guzzone. “We’re so lucky to be in Howard County where people are bringing their ideas, culture, and sports to a community where we can love it all. On behalf of the Howard County State Delegation, I congratulate everyone for making this a reality.”
“The new East Columbia Cricket Pitch is a great example of people coming together, bringing their ideas, and working collaboratively to bring a wonderful amenity to our community,” said Councilwoman Christiana Rigby. “Thank you to County Executive Ball, Dr. Martirano, the Department of Recreation and Parks, and all the other partners who helped make this project happen. These fields offer youth an exciting opportunity to participate in another fun sport in Howard County.”
“Howard County youth cricket is very appreciative of the County’s commitments to this great sport. We started with a handful of kids and we are now the leaders in terms of number of grounds and players participating in the mid-Atlantic region,” said Howard County Cricket League Commissioner and League Co-founder Murali Padmanaban. “This is all in thanks to County Executive Dr. Calvin Ball, his office, Howard County Recreation and Parks, Howard County Public Schools and the volunteer efforts of our local cricket families. We are excited to see continued growth in Howard County and the cricket opportunities provided to our local student-athletes.”
“I grew up watching my father play in the Howard County Cricket League and I am very thankful that my friends and I have and will have the same opportunities to compete in cricket. The sport is growing within Howard County schools and we now get to have games and practice on our own pitch here at Lake Elkhorn Middle School,” said Dev Patel, a youth player entering his senior year at Howard High School. “I will be representing Howard County as I compete in national tournaments and play Major League Cricket. Thank you to Dr. Calvin Ball and all of Howard County leadership.”
In addition to this new pitch, the County will improve and maintain the four existing baseball diamonds on the shared fields for Lake Elkhorn Middle and Cradlerock Elementary.