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USA to co-host T20 WC 2024: History of the sport in the States

T20 WC 2024: USA will co-host the World Cup along with West Indies. History of the cricket in the United States.

USA Cricket Association to co-host T20 World Cup 2024 along with West Indies | Walking Wicket (Source_ ©X_Twitter_
USA Cricket Association to co-host T20 World Cup 2024 (Source: ©X/Twitter)

At present, cricket finds its place in nearly 100 countries, ranging from the Caribbean to Europe; Africa to Asia. It’s quite hard to believe, but it was once the national game of the United States of America (USA) and one of the first outdoor games to be played.

In 1844, the very first cricket match was organized between the United States and Canada. The latter got the better of the former by 23 runs at the St. George’s Cricket Club in New York. However, the first publicly reported cricket match in North America took place in 1751. 

The rules of the game were formalized in 1754. The ‘Founding Father of the United States, Benjamin Franklin, returned from England with a copy of the 1744 Laws, cricket's official rule book. 

Evolution of cricket in the United States 

The game was very confusing to the Americans and was yet to gain the spectators on those shores. But as the country’s growing population rolled out in the west and the south, so did the perplexing game.

The year was 1849, 16th US President Abraham Lincoln reportedly went to enjoy Chicago taking on Milwaukee in a cricketing contest. Nearly 10000 Americans were in attendance for the game, while many more were watching it. The whole scenario suddenly brought an active interest in the game. The younger players got more encouragement with each passing day. 

In 1884, Philadelphia visited England, and another trip followed in 1889. During Australia’s tour in 1893, Philadelphia made the highest first-class score by an American team, 525. Australia, after batting twice in the encounter, lost the match by an innings and 68 runs.


The Americans tried to design the game in the baseball way. A professor at Arizona University, Phoenix, expressed that Americans were more interested in sports like rugby, despite cricket’s increasing popularity. 

‘Cricket in the US is catching up, but only among the immigrants from India, Pakistan, and some from Nepal.’ Akhtar, a close follower of cricket, told India Today in an interview. 

So, the question stands where does the engrossment for the game fall?

Decline of Cricket in the USA

The Americans slowly began to shift themselves towards the game. Players were now called ‘batsman’ and not batter (ICC however changed the term to batter in 2021). A ball whacked over the fence is a ‘six,’ and not a home run. It was no longer a baseball diamond, as the action took place in the field or the ‘pitch’ in cricket. But the seeds of Cricket’s decline in the US had already been sown. 

For many reasons, the national temperament wasn’t suited to cricket’s relaxed pace. It led to a lack of interest by the game’s governing body. The young generation started to engage themselves in other spectator sports, such as tennis, basketball, or ice hockey. Cricket, to them, was slow. Various traditional white-dress trends and the nasty code of sportsmanship were the reasons behind the struggle of the game in the USA.

In 1958, cricket was televised in Los Angeles, where a local station allotted two hours. Three years later, the United States Cricket Association was founded. The US earned the Associate membership of the International Cricket Council (ICC) in 1965, as Canada too shook hands with them in 1968. 

In 2004, the ICC announced Project USA, a well-funded plan to expand the game. But in the very next year, serious governance issues within the US administration began. The 2005 ICC Trophy provided them an opportunity to re-establish themselves, but the failure robbed them of the chance of earning a full-member status. Finally, on August 9, 2005, the ICC suspended the US after they failed to name a squad due to a legal dispute. 

Revolution in American cricket: Minor and Major League

In 2004, USA Cricket started the Pro Cricket League. However, with the growth of IPL in 2008, ICC helped US cricket in gaining power in the biggest sports market. The US Cricket Board decided to launch the American Premier League in collaboration with New Zealand, but the planning failed. Later in 2021, they designed Minor League Cricket (MILC) as America’s first T20 championship.

The Silicon Valley Strikers, led by Unmukt Chand, became the inaugural champions. The tournament became exciting with the inclusion of many overseas players like Liam Plunkett, Rovman Powell, and Corey Anderson. 

In 2023, the ICC gave official sanction to the Major Cricket League (MLC), allowing the players NOCs (No Objection Certificates). This meant that any player could participate. In the very first draft in Houston, players like Aaron Finch and Quinton de Kock signed for the teams. Few of the franchises like Texas Super Kings (TSK) or Mumbai Indians New York (MINY) were owned by the IPL franchises. 

USA Cricket team | Walking Wicket (Source_ ©X_Twitter)
USA Cricket team during a game (Source: ©X/Twitter)
Potential growth of cricket in the US after the T20 World Cup

So far, most of the USA players were of India-origin. Eight of the 15 players, such as captain Monak Patel or Milind Kumar, are Indian-origin players in USA’s squad for the ICC Men's T20 World Cup 2024. With its success, the young generation of the country may look to put their weight behind the game. 

The same goes with the infrastructure. The local clubs arrange their games in multipurpose stadiums, used for rugby or baseball. These are open grounds rather than stadiums which interest the locals. 

The Nassau Cricket Stadium, which is going to organize the India-Pakistan clash in the upcoming event, installed drop-in pitches from Adelaide. The drop-in square, used in Adelaide Oval and Eden Park, has been curated in Florida and later transported to New York by road. 

To increase curiosity among the fans, the iconic Empire State Building in New York was lit up with various colours for the world event. 

Cricket won’t be getting millions of lovers in the United States overnight. There are possibilities, perhaps endless possibilities as the country gets ready for the second most popular sport in a few weeks. At present, the dream for the youth is to be the next Beth Ruth or Hank Aaron. But a successful T20 World Cup could divert their aspiration to be the next Virat Kohli or Kane Williamson. All of them will dream or could dream of holding a cricket bat, rather than a lumber (the baseball bat). 


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