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Cheerleader Katrina: “It’s way more interesting than baseball”

October 18th, 2009 by Edward Craig in Champions League, Twenty20


The cheerleaders have been some of the stars of the Champions League – tireless, enthusiastic, energetic – and American. Well, most of them. There are a few South Africans who are annoyed that the Americans are getting all the attention. Cheerleading is cut-throat competitive.

So what do the American dancers make of cricket – and India? “It is my first time here,” says Katrina Alston (on the right in the above picture), 26, from Seattle, Washington. “And I love it.”

Katrina is a part-time cheerleader who is signed for the company that supplied the dancers, Varsity. She had to apply to come and take time off from her day job working in finance. “We are actually from all over the US. Not one person is from the same city.”

She was a top college cheerleader, captain of her university for two years, which she believes is the highest level of cheerleading – competitions are about athleticism. The professional NFL cheerleaders are more about looks and figure. And she is no stranger to cricket: “I lived in Cape Town for six months so got to know the game a little from watching but I thought it was a lot like baseball. Once I came here and sat through a few games I was like ‘I get it now’.”

The cheerleaders are split into two groups one supporting each team in any particular game, so they only dance when their team takes a wicket or hits a boundary. They do have helpers who keep them on track in case they’ve missed a moment: “I think it is actually more complicated than we’re making out because we just concentrate on wickets, sixes and fours – we don’t know byes and things. But I am beginning to understand averages and economy rate.”

How does it compare to American sports? “We think it is really fun – way more interesting than baseball. It is always changing, there’s a lot of running. In baseball there is a lot of swinging and missing and people out. And the crowd makes a big difference. Everywhere cricket is played, the crowd is really receptive.”

In India, though, the cheerleader’s existence has not always been an easy one. During the first IPL two black British dancers accused IPL staff of racism. All the cheerleaders at the Champions League are white. Katrina says: “Within this [dance] company there are all different races but I do believe the people in India picked the cheerleaders based on pictures in their application. So maybe it was their preference. I was surprised by that because America is such a diverse country. There might not have been many applicants who were different races.”

There has always been rumblings from religious groups as well so the girls have to be wary of the cultural differences between Indian and American crowds: “We acknowledge that they are sensitive to certain things and we try to be appropriate within our means – this isn’t the most conservative outfit. We do not push the envelope and we make sure we are respectful.”

Katrina has now watched a load of Twenty20 matches. She has favourite players – Herschelle Gibbs, Brett Lee, Kieron Pollard and “that Indian bowler from the Challengers” Anil Kumble. “He’s really good.” And her favourite side is Trinidad and Tobago: “Because of their spirit – they seem to come from a vibrant place they seem very humble and they are always dancing around and smiling. At the same time they get the job done.”

She even plans to preach cricket back home and hopes it can find a foothold: “I think cricket is such a fun sport. Football is picking up in the States and people are opening their eyes to other worldwide sports. We’re finally looking outside the America.”

Edward Craig is deputy editor of The Wisden Cricketer

Posted in Champions League, Twenty20 |

7 Responses to “Cheerleader Katrina: “It’s way more interesting than baseball””

  1.   Claire Sweeting says:

    Hmmm! Is it a quiet day for cricket?

  2.   Daniel Brigham says:

    And that’s a fiver for me …

  3.   Lewis says:

    Hey Daniel, I dont get it… what do you mean by ‘a fiver’? I watched a few videos and it seems like there’s a great atmosphere over there!!! (and I am not only talking about the smoking hot cheerleaders! :-)

  4.   Daniel Brigham says:

    We may or may not have been betting in the office over whether Edward would manage to interview a cheerleader …

  5.   neetu says:

    nice but lengthy game

  6.   neetu says:

    sometimes it eats up your precious time,especially mens time.

  7.   jrod says:

    What were her views on wrist spin as opposed to finger spin?

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