Batter up for cricket

David Ferreira (C’04)

David Ferreira (C’04)

Photo by Tommy Leonardi

David Ferreira (C’04) is a star athlete in a game that gets no respect at Penn or anywhere else in the United States.

Born in Bermuda, educated in England and now a philosophy, politics and economics major, David has just been selected for the Bermuda National Cricket Team. He will be home this summer to practice for a tournament to be held in Los Angeles in the fall against teams from the USA, Belize, Canada, the Cayman Islands and Trinidad and Tabago.

“In the World Cup competition [which begins in South Africa this month], Bermuda lost to Canada in the elimination round. We should have beat them,” he said. “That’s a goal for us.”

Ferreira and his family moved to England when he was eight years old. There he began to play cricket at school. “I am an opening batsman and wicket keeper. It is the same thing as the catcher in baseball, but cricket is different—the ball bounces before it gets to you and we wear two big gloves rather than one so you can catch it with both hands.”

He finished his collegiate career as captain of the Eton side in the annual match against Harrow that is played each year in London at the hallowed Lord’s Cricket Ground, cricket’s spiritual home.

“I’d been told that there was cricket at Penn,” said Ferreira, “but it was just a bunch of guys.” He found his way to the Merion Cricket Club on the Main Line, where a collection of expats from South Africa, England and India play. “They have great grounds and it has to be one of the most idyllic places I have ever played.”

His freshman year, Ferreira played in the Philadelphia Cricket Festival, which matches teams from Canada and Great Britain against Philly’s own Haverford, Germantown, Philadelphia and Merion cricket clubs. “The English usually win,” he reported.

To Americans with limited knowledge of cricket, baseball seems a useful analogy, but Ferreira disagrees. “The analogy is that we hold a big wooden bat and we hit a ball. It ends there.”

Ferreira, who played varsity squash for the Quakers in his freshman and sophomore years, plans to try out for baseball this spring. He speaks with authority about both games. “My father told me in baseball you hit the good ball and leave the bad one. In cricket you defend the good one and you hit the bad one.”

He has little patience for macho American fans who deride cricket as an effete gentleman’s game. “In cricket there is more deviation on the ball. The ball moves in the air and when it hits the pitch it moves again. When you are out there facing a guy hurling a leather and cork round ball at 95 miles per hour [in the professional game] there is no friendship there. You are gentlemen after the game, but it is definitely war.”

In Bermuda, most of the people who play cricket are black. Ferreira, who plays for Somerset, is the only white person on that team and the only white person on the national team.

“Every August the east side of the island plays the west side in a two-day cricket match that celebrates the end of slavery on Bermuda. I was honored to be the only white person on either side last year when it was the 100th anniversary.”

Originally published on February 13, 2003