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Can cricket go mainstream in the U.S.?

July 4, 2017 at 6:10 PM EDT
In our NewsHour Shares moment of the day, the second most popular sport in the world is starting to catch on in the United States -- with a little help from some devotees who grew up playing it in other countries.
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NewsHour shares web small logoIn our NewsHour Shares series, we show you things that caught our eye recently on the web. What about you? Leave your suggestions in the comments below, or tweet to @NewsHour using #NewsHourShares. We might share it on air.

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, Cricket 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, Cricket Player: 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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