July 21, 2024

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U.S. Cricket Team’s Success Raises the Game’s Profile

2 min read

When Harmeet Singh left India in 2020, he was looking for a fresh start. His career as a cricket player had stagnated, and his dream of making the Indian national team — and playing in the World Cup, the sport’s biggest stage — was fading.

His destination was the United States, where cricket had long struggled to gain any kind of mainstream visibility, and professional opportunities were typically sparse. Arriving during the pandemic on a special visa given to individuals with extraordinary abilities, Mr. Singh made around $60,000 a year by playing for the U.S. men’s national cricket team and in small leagues, and coaching on the side as part of his contract.

This month, his decision is paying off in a big way. Mr. Singh and the U.S. team defeated Pakistan during a Men’s T20 Cricket World Cup match on June 6, shocking the sport. On Friday, the team advanced to the second stage of the tournament, the first to be held in part in America, which is sharing hosting duties with several Caribbean nations. The United States next plays on Wednesday against South Africa in Antigua, the first of three matches in the second stage.

The team’s success has been the latest event to help boost cricket’s profile in the United States, where the sport has seen a surge in investment in recent years. Cricket still faces notable obstacles in trying to attain more widespread popularity, some of which have been highlighted by the tournament. But the most passionate backers are bullish on the sport’s trajectory.

“I could never have seen cricket growing as much as it has,” Mr. Singh said in an interview.

The majority of players on the American team were born outside the country, making the squad by fulfilling a residency requirement. The team had never appeared at any World Cup and qualified this year only because it was a co-host for the T20 event. Its star player, Saurabh Netravalkar, works as a software engineer at Oracle.

The T20 World Cup’s first stage was hosted in…

Santul Nerkar

2024-06-18 10:53:41

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