The first ever professional cricket league in the U.S. will launch in 2023, Major League Cricket (MLC) announced Tuesday—San Francisco will be one of six cities to get its own team.
Founders Sameer Mehta and Vijay Srinivasan, both from the Bay Area, told Axios the idea is to bring star cricket players to the United States while also developing the homegrown American talent.
The launch of MLC coincides with the U.S. co-hosting the next T20 World Cup, along with the West Indies member nations of Antilles, The Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands, in 2024. West Indies is the name of an international cricket team made up of multiple Caribbean island nations and Guyana.
MLC’s inaugural season is slated to start July 13, 2023, where 19 games will be played primarily in a new stadium built just outside of Dallas in Grand Prairie, Texas.
The other teams will be based in Dallas, Los Angeles, Washington D.C., Seattle and New York, but games won’t be played in those cities until further notice.
In San Jose, where cricket has been steadily growing in popularity, county supervisors are moving forward with plans to build a 15,000-person cricket stadium at the county fairgrounds.
The Silicon Valley Strikers of Minor League Cricket, which was founded in 2020, are currently the Bay Area’s top cricket team.
According to USA Cricket, the sport is played by about 200,000 people in America. In comparison, it is estimated that millions of people play it in India.
Srinivasan also co-founded the popular American cricket channel Willow TV, which says it has millions of subscriptions.
The sport traces its roots back to the British Empire and shares some small similarities with baseball, as it is played with a bat and ball. As opposed to America’s pastime, however, the team playing defense actually surrounds the batting area and they have to try and get 10 batters out before the teams swap roles and the inning ends.
Traditional cricket matches, also known as “tests,” can last up to five days. “T20” matches on the other hand, are modified to last just two or three hours.
Cricket fields are oval in shape with the pitch, or batter's box in baseball terms, located directly in the middle. That means that the new SF team, if it does not end up playing in the South Bay like the 49ers, may not be able to shoe-horn themselves into existing stadiums or fields.
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