WESLACO, RGV – Players that participate in the RGV Cricket League love the game so much they set up another tournament as warm up.

The Team Marv Tournament started Saturday at the Harlon Block Sports Complex in Weslaco. Eight teams will compete in the tournament over the next four weekends, with two games, 20 overs a side, played per day every Saturday and Sunday.

The best four teams in the league – mostly comprising Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi nationals – will progress to the semi-finals, with the final slated for Oct. 6.

“Most of the people in the Rio Grande Valley are not aware of the game of cricket. We want them to know about. We welcome the RGV community to come down and watch,” said Binoj Mathew, a nurse anesthetist from McAllen.

Cricket, a distant relative of baseball, is the No. 1 sport in the Indian subcontinent. Its superstar players are adored by millions and earn huge wages. Indeed, the India vs Pakistan World Cup game played at Old Trafford, England, on June 16 attracted, via TV, radio, and streaming coverage, 229 million viewers worldwide, according to the Broadcast Audience Research Council of India.

Mathew said playing cricket in the Valley reminds the players of home.

“We are all here because of the passion we have for the game. We all work, we are all busy but we make time to come down here. It feels like home,” he said.

Mathew said sports grounds in McAllen and Brownsville are also available but they tend to chose the sports complex in Weslaco to reduce traveling.

Businessman Hareendranath Vengilat is so passionate about cricket that he travels from Monterrey, Mexico, to play in the Valley. He owns a plastics injection molding company in Monterrey and helps sponsors the Team Marv tournament.

“More players would travel from Monterrey to the Valley to play cricket here but their visa does not allow them to come into the United States,” Vengilat said.

Vengilat’s leadership skills have led to him being named president of the Nuevo Leon Cricket Association. He said there are five or six teams that play cricket in Monterrey and some of the players are Mexican.

“A lot of people are fearful of playing with the stitched balls but we are planning to have some matches with them,” he said.

Long term, the cricket players of the Valley and Monterrey would like to stage an international tournament, Vengilat said, with the dream of the Valley players being to have their own ground complete with floodlights so they can play day-night games.

Editor’s Note: For more information about the Team Marv cricket tournament, email Bino John at [email protected].