July 29, 2019
Thwack! Slap! Whack!
Jaskaran Malhotra took off his helmet, lay down his bat, tightly clenched his right fist, and gazed at his teammates. “C’mon,” he shrieked, elated. The nerves in his neck flexed, and his biceps bulged through his red, blue, white jersey. He had just hammered eight boundaries, hard-to-achieve shots that earn the maximum runs obtainable per ball, to help his team secure a chance at competing in the next 50-over World Cup.
Just like that, U.S. cricket was back. Since Malhotra’s streak last November, triumphs for American cricket have been racking up: gaining One Day International (ODI) status, and thus international eligibility for the men’s team; 100% wins for the women’s team; new seasoned coaches; the best-ever bowling statistics for American cricket; and a $1 billion fund from American Cricket Enterprises (ACE) to foster cricket in the U.S. — all within the first seven months of 2019.
For centuries, cricket has been overshadowed by baseball in the U.S. The first recorded cricket match was played in Manhattan in 1751 and even George Washington supposedly played the sport in 1778. But cricket was soon waylaid by the popularity of baseball, which was easier to learn, required less equipment, and didn’t need the special turf that allows cricket balls to bounce on the ground. Plus, it took only a few hours to play compared to cricket, which can take up to five days to play. “Baseball...saw the commercial possibilities of a spectator sport, and consciously tweaked all aspects of the game [of cricket] to make it more popular,” said Jamie Harrison, Chairman at Maryland Youth Cricket Association.