Will Americans rekindle their love for cricket?

Cricket's history in America is a curious one. Once fairly popular in the 18th and 19th centuries, particularly on the East Coast, it eventually lost ground to baseball. Today, American cricket persists but with a smaller profile. Pockets of dedicated enthusiasts keep the sport alive through clubs and leagues, particularly in areas with large South Asian immigrant communities. While it may not be a mainstream sport, American cricket offers a unique blend of tradition and passionate play.


Despite the busy sporting summer ahead, we might already have seen the most unforeseen sporting event of 2024. On June 6, in a thrilling T20 World Cup match-up, co-hosts USA defeated Pakistan in what has been labelled one of the biggest shocks in cricket history." Pakistan could only manage a single off the final ball of a "super over" tiebreaker when seven runs were required.

Few anticipated this. Pakistan has a strong cricketing history, having placed second in 2022 and won this competition in 2009. Cricket is not a very popular sport in the United States, but The New York Times did, in fact, imply that a large number of Americans were "oblivious to the magnitude" of the triumph.

Perhaps, though, history should make it less surprising. After all, the US lost a low-scoring match against Canada in September 1844, the first-ever international cricket match played in what is now Manhattan. And at a period when English cricket was in its "golden age," the Philadelphian cricket team was sufficiently talented to win 12 matches against first-class counties when they visited England in 1897, 1903, and 1908.

A Brief History of Cricket in the United States


Many Americans are unaware that cricket has deep historical origins in the United States:

  • In 1754, Benjamin Franklin personally transported a copy of the rules to the colonies.
  • At Valley Forge, the soldiers of Washington's army engaged in informal games of "wicket".
  • Abraham Lincoln had an affinity for cricket.
  • The North Meadow of Central Park was formerly used as a cricket pitch.
  • The inaugural international cricket match occurred in New York in 1844, with teams from America and Canada.

Once, the sport that was considered the best by mankind was as deeply rooted in American culture as the hot dog at MLB games.

Disruptions occurred during the period of the Civil War, and according to a hypothesis, young American men were too preoccupied with engaging in deadly activities with each other to engage in the intricate preparations that cricket demands.

Furthermore, a conventional game has the potential to endure for a duration of up to five days. It was more convenient to fit in a spontaneous baseball game amidst the battles as resourceful individuals in the baseball industry capitalised on this opportunity. However, progress was facilitated by the establishment of the Imperial Cricket Council in 1909, which exclusively permitted participation from nations within the British Empire. Grant me freedom or grant me the sport of cricket, to put it differently… And, of course, in true Yanky fashion, the Americans opted for freedom.

However, in the present era, Americans have the ability to possess both options simultaneously. Cricket's proponents emphasise that the sport has evolved significantly from its previous portrayal as a leisurely activity for pretentious Englishmen, with the misconception of frequent tea breaks.

Cricket’s Modern Evolution in the US

The prevailing format in modern-day cricket is a contemporary innovation known as T20. In this iteration of the sport, matches have a duration of approximately two and a half hours instead of spanning five days. It is rapid and intense, making it more accessible for someone experiencing it for the first time.

Not to mention, the growth of American cricket has gained significant impetus in the past twenty years. As per USA Cricket, the authoritative organisation for cricket in the United States, the current number of cricketers in the country has exceeded 200,000, a significant increase from the 30,000 recorded in 2006. These cricketers participate in over 400 leagues, tournaments, and school programmes around the nation.

Cricket will return to the Olympic competition in 2028 at the Los Angeles Olympics, marking its first appearance since 1900. The USA team's performance is consistently improving with each passing year, and they defeated Canada in the competition's inaugural match.

Last week, we witnessed a historic moment for cricket in the USA when the American cricket team achieved a remarkable upset against the formidable Pakistan, reminiscent of the biblical story of David and Goliath. To understand the significant difference between the sides, Saurabh Netravalkar, the bowler whose crucial performance secured the largest triumph in the history of American cricket, continues to work as a full-time software engineer at Oracle Cloud Infrastructure… Therefore, we clearly still have a long way to go.

As a side note, I can’t help but think that, as one of the most passionate sports betting nations in the world, if American patriots were to find a love for wagering on cricket like the new betting sites in India, it would help bring more eyes to the sport. However, the competition is fierce, especially with football, basketball, and baseball dominating the markets for so long.

Cricket Triumphing in the United States of America: Money Talks

Although we have discussed some positive aspects, certain operational obstacles must be addressed to ensure cricket's success in the United States.

The primary worry is whether the USA Cricket Association's administrative infrastructure can successfully regain its functionality following its suspension by the International Cricket Council in 2015. The suspension was imposed due to concerns related to the association's governance, finance, reputation, and cricketing operations. Despite the lack of an established cricket ground in the country at that time, the old association had managed to accumulate a debt of US$4 million (£3.15 million).

Now, let us go on to the following obstacle: the cricket grounds! No matter how much hype and marketing there may be, substandard cricket pitches will always be subject to thorough examination by cricket experts.

The consensus among experts is that several pitches in the United States being utilised for the World Cup are of inferior quality. Undoubtedly, the playing field at Nassau County International Cricket Stadium in New York has been classified as "almost hazardous" because of a series of matches with low scores.

In essence, the fate of cricket in the United States hinges on financial considerations. Will there be sufficient revenue generated from advertising, broadcasting, and sponsorship? Will the funds be allocated towards compensating high-profile athletes for participating on subpar playing fields, or will they be directed towards enhancing infrastructure, facilities, and grassroots development?

Cricket's establishment in America is unlikely to endure until the sport is included in educational institutions and women's cricket gains the same level of progress as in other regions.

On a more optimistic note, there are already ongoing discussions about establishing a women's MLC (Major League Cricket). Additionally, and as previously mentioned, cricket is set to be included in the Los Angeles Olympics in 2028. These platforms can potentially reach a larger audience and increase the game's visibility. However, only time will reveal the extent to which it becomes ingrained in the national consciousness and the established sports industry, which is deeply rooted in history, culture, and financial principles.

However, as of right now, Team USA can only continue its current approach—winning with flair and intimidating certain cricketing powerhouses in the process. Whatever the future holds, it will likely rely on these results.

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