How cricket has exploded in popularity in the U.S.

June 8, 2024
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Bowie, Maryland — In a field in Bowie, Maryland, a group of kids are playing a game unfamiliar to most Americans, cricket.

“When I first started playing, my mom was like, ‘girl what are you doing?'” said 13-year-old Jordyn Hinkle-Walker.

Hinkle-Walker had never even heard of the game until three years ago, when coach Sham Chotoo brought cricket to her classroom.

“I called up the principal and said, ‘Hey, I would like to come to the school and do a cricket demo,'” Chotoo told CBS News.

And the reaction from the students was immediate.

“It was crazy,” Chotoo said. “You see they would get so excited, and you see their whole faces would light up.”

Chotoo grew up playing the game in Trinidad and Tobago, and has made it his mission to share the sport in the U.S. since moving here 30 years ago.

“Back then, it was mainly the immigrant population playing cricket,” Chotoo said. “It was a fun way to get together.”

Then, when he had children, Chotoo wanted to share this piece of his culture with them.

“And I said, well, why don’t I start a cricket program here,” Chotoo said.

That program became the first elementary school cricket league in the U.S. Now, over a decade later, his program has 86 teams and more than 1,000 children playing cricket.

Nationwide, the sport is exploding from coast-to-coast. According to USA Cricket, the sport’s governing body, more than 400 leagues have opened in America, with over 200,000 players and counting.

“It’s truly a watershed moment for cricket in this country,” cricket reporter Smit Patel said.

Patel predicts more aggressive growth of the sport in the U.S. Last year, Major League Cricket debuted in the U.S. And cricket will be featured at the 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles.

“It’s the second most played sport in the world,” Patel said. “The potential is immense.”

This month, for the first time, the U.S. is co-hosting and competing in the International Cricket Council’s Men’s T20 World Cup

“I believe the World Cup is going to act as a catalyst, the same way the FIFA World Cup acted as a catalyst in 1994,” Patel said. 

And on Thursday, the U.S. made major headlines when it pulled off a stunning upset defeat of Pakistan. And on Sunday, India and Pakistan will square off in the Nassau County International Cricket Stadium in New York, a 34,000-seat, $30 million temporary stadium built for the T20 World Cup.

Cricket World Cup
U.S. players celebrate after defeating Pakistan in a T20 World Cup Group A cricket match at the Grand Prairie Cricket Stadium in Grand Prairie, Texas, on June 6, 2024.

ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images


So now, with the world watching and a pathway to go pro here in America, young cricketers can dream bigger than ever before.

“Now I can say, you know what, you can be a professional cricket player, you can earn a living by playing in the Major League Cricket program here in the U.S.,” Chotoo said.

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