The Prairie View Cricket Complex in Texas will host the first-ever USA Cricket Men’s National Championship across one week in mid-November this year.
Here’s everything you need to know about the tournament, along with a look at how the game is growing in the United States.
Cricket in the USA
Like many countries, the USA can trace its cricketing roots back to the British Empire when colonists first played the sport in the 18th century. Philadelphia was then and remains to this day the spiritual hub of American cricket.
It was there that some of the most intense matches were contested. The city was also home to George Stuart Patterson, the man heralded as America’s own W.G. Grace.
In 36 first-class appearances, Patterson recorded a bowling average of 21.22 with a best of 5-22 and performed pretty well with the bat too, averaging 39.44. He was also involved in the touring Philadelphian team of 1897 that famously beat Sussex and Warwickshire in England.
Unfortunately over the course of the next century cricket fared particularly poorly in the United States with homegrown sports such as gridiron and basketball overtaking it in terms of popularity.
In recent decades however the sport has enjoyed something of a renaissance. The recent legalisation of most forms of sports betting in the USA has also increased the appeal of the sport.
Recently ESPN estimated that there are around 30 million cricket fans in the country with New York, rather than Philadelphia being USA’s biggest cricketing hotspot. This year’s championship is not the first time in recent history that a large-scale domestic cricket tournament has been hosted on American soil.
In 2004 Pro Cricket was organized as a Twenty20 tournament with two divisions consisting of eight teams. Ultimately the tournament failed to gain traction largely because it was not sanctioned by the USA Cricket Association (USACA).
In 2023 however, the American market will have another crack at Twenty20 with the formation of Major League Cricket which has been modelled specifically on the Indian Premier League.
The upcoming National Cricket Championship this November is being seen as a potential barometer to gauge the success of future cricket ventures in the country. Here’s everything you need to know about the upcoming championship.
When is it? November 14–20, 2021
Where is it? Prairie View Cricket Complex, Texas
What format is it? 50-over
How many teams are there? Eight: East Zone, Mid-Atlantic Zone, South Zone, Midwest Zone, South West Zone, West Zone Blues, West Zone Reds, USA Cricket Under 19s.
Will it be on TV? Broadcasting rights have yet to be disclosed by USA Cricket but in line with all of the association’s other tournaments, you can expect this one to be available to watch. It will either be aired on a traditional sports dedicated channel or, depending on where you are in the world, available on a streaming service.
What purpose will it serve? According to the latest press releases from USA cricket this championship will serve as the perfect breeding ground to develop some of the country’s best young talent, as evidenced by the inclusion of the under 19s national team.
However, as a shorter format competition, it is hoped that the potentially explosive tournament will also serve as the perfect opportunity to grow the game in Texas and the wider country. With American cricket suffering particularly hard as a result of the pandemic, it is hoped that this championship can kick start a revival in the game.
Does cricket have a long-term future in the USA? The game definitely has a future in the American market, but whether or not it has what it takes to become a mainstream sport is another question altogether.
There is a large immigrant population in the USA that has grown up on the cricketing rivalries of India vs Pakistan and Sri Lanka vs Bangladesh.
The growth of these communities in line with an increase in British, Australian and New Zealand immigrant populations might be enough to sustain an increased interest in American cricket.
For the sport to grow organically in the USA an increase in domestic interest will be needed, which unfortunately has not transpired as yet. The sports market in the USA is already incredibly saturated and if a sport like football is already struggling to engage Americans than a longer form sport like cricket does not stand much chance.
Perhaps something like The Hundred which was successfully held in England earlier this year could have success in the USA but at the time of writing it is an unknown quantity in North America. After the November Championship and the start of the Major League Cricket Twenty20 in 2023 we will know much more about the future growth of cricket in the USA.
Until then, American cricket’s future must be sent to the DRS…