Cricket Coming to the US: A Four-Century Long Process
March 8, 2023
As of 2019, USA Cricket has teamed with American Cricket Enterprises (ACE) and invested a billion dollars in the creation of Major League Cricket. Investors in ACE include Sameer Mehta and Vijay Srinivasan, the founders of Willow TV, the largest cricket broadcaster in North America (who will also be broadcasting MLC games). Other investors include ex-Facebook CTO Aditya Agarwal, Head of Google’s Search team Amit Singhal, and Neeraj Arora, former chief business officer at Whatsapp. The companies hope to build on the 20 million cricket fans already residing within the US and create an even larger fan base.
The popular sport falls just behind soccer with 2.5 billion fans, and has support all around the globe.
Beginning this year, the US will have its first professional league, and many Americans will witness their first “googly” and hear cries of a “lolly.” MLC’S inaugural season will take place from July 13-30, 2023, with six teams taking part representing Dallas, San Francisco, New York City, Seattle, Los Angeles and Washington D.C. The MLC will be played in a T20 layout, where the game will last for three hours compared to the standard five days (with tea breaks!). To build a better base of players, USA cricket is creating minor leagues in addition to the major leagues to form a system of developing players and recruiting locally. Ms. Archana Sankar, Science Department and former schoolgirl cricketer, has “high hopes,” although she is aware patience is required for watching cricket, and the sport is stigmatized for being slow moving. Mr. Darren Lovelock, English Department and cricket enthusiast, is unsure if the sport could be established into American schools easily. He said, “although cricket is cheap, its fields need to have a central, flat rectangle which makes the pitch less versatile for other sports.” Another challenge is encouraging American kids to leave baseball, which was originally based on cricket.
Cricket, while foreign to many Americans, is wildly popular internationally due to its historic origins. The first known mention of the game occurred in 1611 when a dictionary defined it as a “boys game.” The game originated in south-east England, and arrived in America through the English colonies as early as the 17th century. Cricket is played between two teams with 11 players each on an oval-shaped field. One team “bowls” the cricket ball aiming to strike the wicket, a set of three wooden posts and the other team defends the wicket by hitting the ball with a bat. If a player hits the cricket ball they must run to the other wicket set up in front of them and back to score runs.
The popular sport falls just behind soccer with 2.5 billion fans, and has support all around the globe through organizations such as the ICC (International Cricket Council). It can be said that fans get just as rowdy at these cricket matches as Americans do at American football.
There is a lot of competition in the American sports industry, but the MLC hopes to build their already established base of fans to increase the sport’s popularity in America. Maybe in the not-too-distant future Amercians will be turning off the NFL or MLB to watch their local cricket team take the field.