The United States, some 125 years ago, was seen as a nation in the ascendancy in the game of cricket. The Americans once beat a good Australian side just before the turn of the century before the International Cricket Council banned all but Commonwealth nations from international competition.

Fast forward about 100 years, where the United States was the host of an experimental league in a format which was called Twenty20, where two teams played a shortened game of 20 overs. The league, Pro Cricket, had teams like the New York Storm, the D.C. Forward, and the San Francisco Freedom playing in minor-league baseball stadiums and one nearly-abandoned football stadium.

The league lasted just one year, but the T-20 format has taken off worldwide, with domestic leagues in India, Pakistan, the Caribbean, and even Afghanistan. World championships have been held, and while the major powers of world cricket have won championships in the format, there have been great performances by some of the minnows of world cricket such as Ireland, Afghanistan, and Sri Lanka, the latter of whom won the 2014 World Cup.

The current T-20 World Cup is being held in the Americas, shared between Antigua & Barbuda, Barbados, Guyana, St. Lucia, St. Vincentand the Grenadines, Trinidad & Tobago, and three sites in the United States — Lauderhill, Fla., Grand Prairie, Tex., and East Meadow, N.Y.

The current T-20 World Cup field has a number of superb cricketing nations involved, including the likes of England, India, the West Indies, and Australia.

However, there are a number of developing nations in the tournament such as Nepal, Oman, Papua New Guinea, Namibia, Uganda, Holland, and Bangladesh.

And one developing nation today made one of the biggest world splashes in the sport in more than 125 years. For it was at the Grand Prairie site today, that the United States beat the No. 6 team in the world by a score of 177-172 after a super-over.

In world-level competition, it is very much the equivalent of the United States men’s ice hockey team beating the Soviet Union in 1980 at the Olympics. The Americans, then as now, were little more than amateurs playing against an opposing team whose players who were paid like professionals and trained like professionals.

The game saw Pakistan putting up the score of 159 in its 120 balls, and with the Americans chasing the game from behind. With six balls for the Americans to face, the team had scored 145 runs, which meant that the States needed 14 runs to tie. Surely, a group of amateurs couldn’t manage that kind of output when it counted.

Or could it?

The big heroes of the day were Americans Aaron Jones and Nitish Kumar, each of whom scored a boundary during the final over, and continued that hot hitting in the 10-ball super over tiebreaker. After combining for 18 runs, it was up to USA bowler Saurabh Netravalkar to keep Pakistan under that total. With strong bowling, Pakistan was held to 13 in 10 deliveries to seal the Americans’ win.

The win is a reflection of how popular a game cricket has become in public parks all over the country, with a number of organized teams in major metropolitan areas as well as a major cricket league. Too, it also is a reflection of the immigrant communities of South Asia and other regions which have come together to make the Americans a sudden powerhouse in a game which had been pushed to the side for most of the last century and a quarter.

And following on this, T-20 cricket is scheduled to be part of the Olympics in 2028. An Olympics which will be held in the United States.

Given what we have seen across America with the rise of soccer as a major sport since the 1990s, I think cricket is set for major growth as well. And the people who run other sports in the U.S. would do well to take a page from soccer and cricket to foment the growth of their games in this wonderful melting pot of a nation.


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