Cricket’s heydey in America was more than a century ago. But with the growth of South Asian and Caribbean immigrant communities in large metro areas like Houston and Dallas, a group of investors are making a $120 million gamble that it can become a profitable business and perhaps even a popular sport in America.
They’re calling it Major League Cricket. Baseball fans will find the name — and the sport — familiar.
Cricket was very much an Anglo thing back in the day. It’s since become a global sport, embraced by those once colonized by the British. It’s these folks who’ve made the game their own. And they’ve taken it with them to America.
Major League Cricket debuts today with an opening match between the Los Angeles Knight Riders and Texas Super Kings at Grand Prairie Stadium, located just outside Dallas, Texas.
Six teams will face off in a single round-robin tournament that culminates with a final on July 30. The games will be in cricket’s shorter Twenty20 or T20 format, lasting around the same time as a regular baseball game (before the pitch clock).
The league’s founders — who include Sameer Mehta and Vijay Srinivasan, Indian American entrepreneurs who founded cricket broadcast Willow TV — hope to repeat some of the magic seen in other T20 leagues in India and Pakistan.
Time will tell whether the bet pays off. But don’t count cricket out. If pickleball can be the next big thing, then maybe cricket can too.
Arif Rafiq is the editor of Globely News. Rafiq has contributed commentary and analysis on global issues for publications such as Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, the New Republic, the New York Times, and POLITICO Magazine.
He has appeared on numerous broadcast outlets, including Al Jazeera English, the BBC World Service, CNN International, and National Public Radio.