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Microsoft will build a cricket field in the middle of its redeveloped campus. (Microsoft Photo Via YouTube)

In a lot of ways, Microsoft’s big redevelopment project at its headquarters in Redmond, Wash., looks similar to many tech companies around the world —  a dense, modern campus centered around open spaces and an outdoor plaza.

But there is one unique part of the redesign that will surely excite any employees who also happen to enjoy playing cricket.

In what appears to be a first for tech giants, Microsoft plans to build a dedicated cricket ground in the middle of the new campus, adjacent to a soccer field. Greg Shaw, senior director in the office of the CEO at Microsoft, wrote a post on LinkedIn this week about why Microsoft decided to build a cricket field.

Above is today’s view of the original campus, compared with a rendering for the new buildings below. The angles are different but, the images show how the new buildings are grouped closer together to make room for more green spaces. (Google Earth and Microsoft Photos)

If you stroll through Microsoft today, it’s likely you’ll see some live cricket. Shaw notes how Microsoft employees — many who hail from cricket crazy countries like India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Australia, Bangladesh, West Indies, South Africa, and England — have been playing games on campus for years, but doing so on existing softball or soccer fields.

When the expansion project is completed in five to seven years, employees will have a dedicated place to play their favorite game right in the heart of Microsoft’s campus, where Buildings 5 and 6 currently sit.

“This may be the first proper, recreational cricket ground ever designed and built as part of a major corporate or community project in the United States,” Shaw wrote.

The cricket field is also good news to the local cricket community around Seattle. On any given Sunday at Redmond’s spacious Marymoor Park — just a few miles from Microsoft campus — you can see the cricket action unfolding with bowlers trying to knock down wickets.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella holds a Kookaburra cricket ball given to him by GeekWire Editor Todd Bishop at the 2017 GeekWire Summit. (Photo by Dan DeLong for GeekWire)

Cricket — a bat-and-ball game originating in southern England in the 16th century — remains an oddity for most Americans, but the passion runs deep in Britain and many of its former colonies, where the sport takes on an almost religious-like following.

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One of Microsoft’s biggest cricket fans is the company’s CEO, Satya Nadella, who has had a passion for the game since childhood. Speaking at the 2017 GeekWire Summit, Nadella explained how cricket has taught him leadership lessons he’s carried over to the workplace.

Nadella recounted a story from a particular cricket match when he was “bowling trash” — so poorly that his captain took him out of the game.

But minutes later, the captain gave Nadella the ball back and told him to get back in the match. It’s a moment that has stuck with him to this day.

“Why did he do that?” Nadella explained. “He could have just broken all my confidence and thrown me off the team, but for some reason, he decided to give me the ball back. That ability, that sensibility of what leaders can do to bring teams along to do their best work — that’s what we can learn from team sport.”

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