As wicket keeper, Sathya Venkatesan is the backbone of his cricket squads. Positioned behind the batter like a baseball catcher, he encourages his teammates, develops strategy and knows what his opponents bring to the matches.
The 15-year-old Redmond resident — who attends the International Community School in Kirkland — took up the game 10 years ago in his native India and has continued playing on the Eastside for the last six years.
Venkatesan, who is nicknamed “Gentle Giant,” has received copious awards during contests and at academies in India as best batsman, captain and man of the match. One of his goals is to represent the United States U19 squad at the International Cricket World Cup in 2020.
At the recent national tournament, his Northwest U15 squad placed third in Chicago; his U13 and U14 teams notched first place at nationals the prior two years.
“I have a passion for cricket. I used to watch a lot of cricket in India — cricket is like a religion in India. Playing cricket with others on the team is the best part of it,” said Venkatesan, whose family moved to the area for his dad’s work at Microsoft Corp.
Over the years, he has played for the United States Development team; participated in international tours to Sri Lanka representing the USA Cricket Global Academy and also played matches with U23 boys and seniors who were visiting Sri Lanka; trained at the Just Cricket and Abhimanyu Cricket academies in India; and attended the International Cricket Council U17 combined selection in San Francisco.
The game is played between two 11-player teams on a cricket field, which features a rectangular 22-yard-long pitch at the center with a wicket — or target of three wooden stumps topped by two bails — at each end. Venkatesan said that some games last eight hours, and international test games can last five days.
When he’s not traveling the nation and globe playing cricket, Venkatesan competes with other kids in adult NorthWest Cricket League matches in Redmond, Issaquah and Seattle.
He’s impressed with the local and national cricket talent and noted that to achieve success in the sport, he has to “put in lots of practice and keep my fitness level high.”