Can cricket go mainstream in the U.S.?


WILLIAM BRANGHAM: And now to a “NewsHour”
Shares, something that caught our eye here
that may be of interest to you.
When you think of the most popular sports
in the world, even us Americans know that
soccer is number one worldwide.
But what about number two?
Believe it or not, it’s cricket.
Now that English game is starting to catch
on in the United States.
Tina Martin from PBS station WGBH in Boston
reports.
TINA MARTIN: Suiting up, stretching out and
getting in a little batting practice before
a cricket match on a remote field in Wrentham.
It’s an unusual game that most resembles baseball,
except you have a bowler instead of pitcher,
and the ball has to bounce before you hit
it.
Games can last for hours, even days, and scores
go into the hundreds.
NITIN MEWEDA, Player: I am completely into
it.
TINA MARTIN: Nitin Meweda has played since
he was a boy in India.
He says American co-workers were often confused
about his favorite sport.
NITIN MEWEDA: That’s one thing which used
to happen with me maybe five, six years ago.
And I would say — they would say, what did
you do this weekend?
I was like, oh, I played cricket.
And they were like, cricket, what is that?
TINA MARTIN: Cricket was played in the United
States back in colonial times, but had pretty
much died out by the Civil War.
But it has thrived in other parts of the world,
with international matches that are among
the most watched global sporting events.
At some games, there are even royal photo-ops.
RAVI UPPALAPATI, Organizer: Cricket in India
is a religion.
It’s more than three times the population
of the United States, and there is one sport.
Can you imagine like, in States, if you have
one professional sport all over the year,
how crazy it would be, right?
It is crazy.
TINA MARTIN: Most of the players in Massachusetts
are immigrants, representing far corners of
the world.
RAVI UPPALAPATI: Most of us are from India,
but there are a lot of people from Pakistan,
and other countries, Sri Lanka, and Australia,
and England.
TINA MARTIN: Ravi Uppalapati is one of the
organizers of the Massachusetts State Cricket
League.
He says they now have several thousand players.
RAVI UPPALAPATI: I think there were 12 teams
in Massachusetts Cricket League in probably
’97.
There are more than 30-plus teams now, so
things have picked up so much.
TINA MARTIN: The MSCL is trying to create
a new generation of players, sponsoring clinics
and camps.
RAVI UPPALAPATI: You see lacrosse these days.
Last two, three years, nobody was playing
lacrosse.
Kids are loving lacrosse.
So it’s just a matter of like how we introduce,
where we introduce.
TINA MARTIN: A bigger challenge might be educating
the parents on what they’re actually watching
their kids play.
For the “PBS NewsHour,” I’m Tina Martin in
Wrentham, Massachusetts.

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