International cricket matches return to the US

The T20 Cricket World Cup is currently taking place at various venues in the US and West Indies, marking a return of the game to the US. On Monday, Sri Lanka played South Africa in New York City, with South Africa winning easily. A temporary stadium was built for the occasion and there were enthusiastic fans who attended. Other US locations are Dallas and Florida.

Cricket in the US has had a checkered history. Given that the US was a British colony, it is not surprising that the game was played here a long time ago, dating back to the beginning of the 18th century and that the first international game between the US and Canada was played in New York in 1844 between the USA and Canada. But for various reasons, the game lost favor to baseball.

It may have been during the Civil War that baseball overtook cricket and secured its place as America’s game. An army making a brief stop at a location could easily organise a game of baseball on almost any clear patch of ground, while cricket required a carefully prepared pitch. After the Civil War, baseball became a much more organized sport than cricket in America, with more money and competition available to baseball players across the country; thus, baseball began to poach players and administrators from the world of cricket. It has been suggested that the fast-paced quick play of baseball was more appealing to Americans than the technical slower game of cricket, which at the time was played over a much longer duration than baseball; some attempts were made to nativize cricket in a way that would reduce its length and other perceived disadvantages relative to baseball, such as the American innovation of wicket, a variation of cricket which could be played in an afternoon. However, the natural tendency toward baseball was compounded by terrible American defeats at the hands of a traveling English side in 1859, which may have caused Americans to think that they would never be successful at this English game. By the end of the Civil War, most cricket fans had given up their hopes of broad-based support for the game. Baseball filled the role of the “people’s game” and cricket became an amateur game for gentlemen.

The loss in public favor was compounded by incompetence and squabbles in the US cricket bodies that resulted in the international cricketing body not recognizing the US organizations. But that has changed and in 2019 a new body known as USA Cricket was recognized as an associate member of the International Cricket Council.

The game still does not have a mass following here, though the numbers are slowly growing, with most of the players being either immigrants from cricket playing countries or their children.


  1. Holms says

    A temporary stadium was built for the occasion…

    In the land that builds stadia costing hundreds of millions of dollars for its universities, why was there a need for a temporary stadium? Though I must say it looks pretty good for a three month project.

  2. sonofrojblake says

    “cricket became an amateur game for gentlemen”

    Which explains why so very few Americans played it…

  3. jenorafeuer says

    I mean, when compared to cricket, baseball is indeed a relatively fast-paced ‘pickup’ game.

  4. Matt G says

    My spouse is of Indian descent. We have a favorite Indian restaurant/bar nearby, and they often have cricket on the television. With a little help from her and the waitstaff, I have a much better understanding of the game.

  5. billseymour says

    I can think of a couple of reasons why baseball retains its popularity at present.

    First of all, it’s a long season.  Spring training starts in March, the regular season runs from April through September, and the playoffs are in October.  Also, every team plays 162 games during the regular season; and it’s unusual for a team to get a day off for any reason other than travel.  Baseball is all over local TV news for two-thirds of the year.

    Another reason could be that the act of hitting a round ball with a round bat injects a great deal of randomness into the game; and so on any given day, almost anything can happen.  There is the occasional lopsided game; but more often than not, there’s at least some suspense right up to the last out.

  6. John Morales says

    Another reason could be that the act of hitting a round ball with a round bat injects a great deal of randomness into the game

    But then, the very act of bouncing the ball before it reaches the batsman (batter henceforth, but tradition) injects a great deal of randomness into the game.

    Baseball pitchers can reach a very tiny amount more speed, but then all the ball can do is swerve in the air according to its initial trajectory and spin. It’s ballistic.

    In cricket, the dynamics change once it hits the ground, which is another entire parameter. ‘Sticky wicket’ and suchlike.

    So, the pitch matters a shitload. No consideration about the pitch in cricket.

    Not just the way the ball curves and drifts, but how it interacts with the ground.

    (cf. Shane Warne)

    And, then, yes — round bat.
    But then, in baseball there are foul lines, so the ball can only be hit in about a quarter of the ground.
    In cricket, the ball can be hit anywhere at all — in front of the batter, behind, to the sides.

    Also, in cricket, only the wicket-keeper uses gloves. Rest of the team, their bare hands.

    Heh. For those who appreciate the multiple levels of my amusement:

  7. John Morales says

    PS [arcana]

    A cricket ball starts out as this shiny, lacquered leather ball with a seam, but after a while of it smacking the ground at somewhere between 90-140 kph. it wears. Assuredly no softer than a baseball, main thing is the seam.

    Depending on the characteristics of the wear, one hemisphere of the ball can be privileged (ahem) so that one side (the seam being the “equator”) becomes worn and scuffed and the other remains more or less smooth.

    This, depending on the initial vector and the ball’s spin at release, will also affect its ballistic trajectory.

    Not exactly randomness, but a change of condition.

    One ball at each end, and 80 overs before new balls are introduced.
    Always a significant moment.

    Of course, anyone who knows anything about cricket knows I can but refer to Test cricket — the traditional 5-day long game — rather than to T20. After all, if there are only 20 overs, the change of balls at 80 overs is moot.

  8. John Morales says

    [TL;DR: however complicated and random baseball can be, cricket exeeds that]

  9. John Morales says


    I stuffed it up, Silentbob:
    “No consideration about the pitch in cricket.” is what I wrote;
    “No consideration about the pitch in baseball.” is what I intended, there.


    Anyway. Far as I’m concerned (and I’ve seen both games), [Chess:Draughts ::Cricket:Baseball].

    (Also, {T20:Cricket::Armageddon:Chess])

  10. John Morales says

    In the news:

    There was discontent with the pitch after Monday’s opening match in which South Africa were able to stroll to their victory target against Sri Lanka with 22 deliveries remaining, while India had 46 balls left when they hit the winning runs in another low-scoring match against Ireland.

    It has meant the toss in New York has become pivotal in determining the outcome of the match, with the team bowling first at an advantage.

    Batters have had to fend off short-pitched bowling, with balls climbing off a length while others skid along at ankle height through to the wicketkeeper.

    A clear diagnosis for the problems has not yet been identified.

  11. birgerjohansson says

    Having read Douglas Adams I am unpleasantly reminded of the ‘Krikkit Wars’, and the role of a ‘supernova bomb’.
    If a ship with white robots turn up at the pitch, keep your heads down.

  12. deepak shetty says

    @moarscienceplz @3
    Did u miss the reference to the 18th century? Where the only form of cricket being played would be 6days(I think) -- that would make even golf seem fast paced

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