Cricket is starting to gain popularity in the US

The U.S. kicked off Major League Cricket for the first time in 2023, with professional teams in Dallas, New York, LA, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, D.C.
United States’ Saurabh Nethralvakar celebrates the dismissal of India’s Virat Kohli during the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup cricket match
Posted at 8:43 PM, Jun 12, 2024

On Wednesday, the United States cricket team lost to India in the T20 Cricket World Cup.

To some in the United States that might not be newsworthy since cricket is not the most popular American sport, but for the sport's place in the country it is huge as it has been gaining popularity over the last few years.

Last Thursday, the U.S. beat Pakistan, one of the world's best teams, in a stunning upset that has suddenly thrust the sport into the national spotlight. It would be as if the Carolina Panthers beat the Kansas City Chiefs in the Super Bowl.

In 2023, the U.S. kicked off Major League Cricket for the first time with professional teams in Dallas, New York, LA, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, D.C.

According to USA Cricket, the sport's governing body, there are more than 400 leagues across the country, from youth leagues to semi-pro ones, with a grand total of 200,000 players and counting.

This year is also the first year the T20 Cricket World Cup is being hosted in the United States, and it's doing big things for the game and culture alike.

"So, we've more than doubled in the past two years in terms of interest and there's a lot more interest there," said Kelsey Barnes, a teacher at Thornton High School north of Denver.

Barnes is part of her school's cricket program and says she saw the interest start when the school district received an influx of Afghan families a few years ago and the kids could not stay off their phones in class.

Pakistan's Shadab Khan plays a shot during the ICC Men's T20 World Cup cricket match


US shocks cricket heavyweight Pakistan at T20 World Cup after forcing super over

AP via Scripps News
8:30 PM, Jun 06, 2024

"During passing periods they're on their phones watching that match and we're having to tell them it's class time, you've got to put that match away and catch up on that score during the next passing period. So, they love cricket," she said.

Cricket was invented in England, but has since become most popular in Asian countries. As India was a British territory at the time, the sport made its way there where it is currently the country's most popular sport. It is why the U.S. team's game against India was a major one for many in the cricket community.

"The kids who are losing their mother nation and who are losing their own game know they are getting it [in the United States]," said Raj Santajmoorthy, a coach at Denver's Youth Cricket Academy. "So, yeah, it's excitement to both kids, and we are also happy. Like, yes, we are not losing the game."

Barnes adds how the sport has become a bridge for students of different cultures and backgrounds.

"As the teams become mixed in terms of background and culture and those things, the common theme is cricket," she said. "But then the other things they're learning, practicing English and all those kinds of things with each other, is awesome. So, it's fun to watch them banter and call each other playful names, you know? Those team dynamics."

So, if you don't know about a wicket, you might want to tune in because the looks on the kids' faces is enough evidence that cricket is bringing more than just a sport to the U.S.