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From Lakeridge baseball to jolly ol English cricket

Michael Charno is finding success playing cricket as he lives in Britain
by: SUBMITTED PHOTO Michael Charno swings during a cricket match in England.

Lakeridge High School graduate Michael Charno willingly admits he still doesn't know all of the rules and intricacies of the game of cricket. But that hasn't stopped him from excelling at it.

Charno graduated in 1998, playing baseball under legendary coach Dave Gasser on a pair of teams that advanced to the quarterfinals of the state playoffs.

He went on to play collegiately for the University of Puget Sound before losing interest in the sport after two seasons.

After graduating from college, Charno decided to pursue a master's degree overseas, attending England's University of York. There, he became intrigued with the sport of cricket, which is hugely popular in England but relatively obscure in the states.

He began playing for an inter-department team with the university, which played a very casual game. He quickly took a liking to it. Charno also took a liking to England, finding a job with the university in the archaeology department and, what was originally supposed to be a one-year trip, has turned England into his new home.

Charno continued to play cricket as often as he could. He eventually started playing in more competitive leagues.

'There are quite a few similarities to baseball. Ultimately, the batting is still just seeing and hitting the ball,' Charno said.

But there are plenty of differences as well. The bowlers bounce the ball toward a batter with a straight-arm delivery. The field is a large circle, and even the area behind the batter is in play. Fielders use only their bare hands to corral the ball. International games have been known to go on for days before finishing.

'There's a lot of tradition and eccentricities with cricket like there is with baseball. To appreciate a game as slow as cricket, I think you have to be a bit off to begin with,' Charno joked.

Charno plays a style of cricket that has been steadily increasing in popularity, which essentially puts a clock on the game. It allows contests to conclude in a more manageable time increment of two to three hours.

As he continued to play consistently, Charno's game improved.

Recently, he set a record in the league that he has been playing in for the last two years. Charno scored the most runs in a single inning (the equivalent of an at bat in baseball), scoring 144 times without recording an out.

'It was pretty exciting. I really didn't know anything about a record until I had finished,' Charno said.

He was somewhat surprised in his feat simply because his approach as a batter is so different to that of a traditional cricket player.

'When you start playing, the first shot you learn is a defensive shot. But I'm used to baseball where you're taught to attack. So when I step in the box, it's pretty easy to see that I don't really know what I'm doing,' Charno said.

His style of play also receives plenty of good-natured ribbing from opponents who joke about his 'American' style of cricket.

Charno continues to enjoy the game and his life in England, but still gets back to see family in Oregon on a regular basis. He is happy to see that cricket is steadily gaining in popularity worldwide and hopes to continue to hone his game in the future.