Edward Fox is passionate about his cricket.
At his private field in Haysville, the native of Australia both plays and watches other teams play. He recently agreed to lease Foxfire Field to the United States Youth Cricket Association to host the junior national championships in September 2012.
Fox, who also serves as vice president of the association, said that building his field was a life goal for him.
“It was a passion; it’s my field of dreams,” Fox said. “We think we can help a lot of kids with it.”
Fox, who grew up in Sydney, said that he always enjoyed cricket when he was a child.
“It was just the national sport,” Fox said. “I mean, who doesn’t love to hit things with a bat?”
Fox, who has lived here for 21 years, thought that Wichita youth deserved a better facility to play the sport he grew up loving. In November 2002, he bought land in Haysville and began constructing Foxfire. Five months and $120,000 later, the pitch was down and ready to play.
The field, at 7700 Duis Drive, has a Bermuda sod infield and an outdoor-carpeted pitch. The 30-by-50-foot pavilion includes two bathrooms and a shower.
Fox said that his field adds to the two cricket fields currently in Wichita, at Planeview Park and Coleman Middle School. But his is unique because it is private.
“It’s the only privately owned field in about a 20-state area,” he said.
Cricket is hundreds of years old and has its origins in England. Each side has 11 players. The game has some similarities to baseball, with batsmen (batters), bowlers (pitchers) and wicket keepers (catchers).
Fox said that there are five adult cricket teams in Wichita, including his own, the Wichita World XI. It reached the semifinals in the Tri-State Cricket League tournament last year.
Although he enjoys competing, Fox said his focus is on teaching cricket to young people so that they can grow up to enjoy it like he did.
Calin Meyer, 15, of Clearwater, is a player for Wichita World XI and has played for Fox for eight years.
“It helped me develop strategy,” Meyer said. “There’s no foul balls, no strikes, so you can just continuously bat up to 80 pitches. I like it more than baseball.”
In December 2002, Fox began teaching cricket in physical education classes at Wichita schools. He said he is glad to help children learn, donating a free cricket set to every school that is interested.
He said he will give away free bats at camps he has planned for spring break and during the summer.
“We teach the average kid how to play cricket for virtually no money,” Fox said. “There’s a real need to bring (youth sports) back to a less-structured program.
“We’d like to continue to see it grow,” Fox said. “It’s been a good thing for Kansas.”
Fox said that although many consider cricket to be a men’s sport, women are welcome and have contributed to many cricket traditions.
“It’s not a game of brawn; it’s about physical and mental endurance and skill,” Fox said. “A woman was actually the first person to score 200 runs in a single game.
“We’ll take anybody who wants to play. If they have a heart for it, bring them on.”