Beyond a BOUNDARY
Vanity Fair US|June 2024
With sped-up matches and a bevy of big-money backers, cricket is pitching an American resurgence
Craig Coyne
Beyond a BOUNDARY

LAST TIME CRICKET dominated American sporting culture, cholera was booming, Millard Fillmore was our nation's most famous person, and trad wives were known, I'm guessing, just as wives.

Since then, cricket has gone bananas...most everywhere else. Said to have originated as a children's game in medieval England, it currently ranks as the second most popular sport in the world after soccer, with an estimated fan base of roughly 2.5 billion people.

It's almost a religion in South Asia, especially India, and also caters to massive crowds in Australia, South Africa, the UK, and elsewhere. Here in the US, meanwhile, a typical sports fan can tell you, at the absolute most, two things about the game: that matches can last up to five days and that, even then, they can still end in a tie.

Now a coterie of big-money backers including Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen, and Access Healthcare chairman Anurag Jain are looking to change that. All three have invested in Major League Cricket, the US men's pro league that launched with six teams last summer.

An additional Stateside boost is expected this June, when the International Cricket Council hosts the biennial Men’s T20 World Cup in the US and the West Indies. Then, in 2028, cricket will make its first Olympic appearance since 1900 at the Summer Games in Los Angeles.

To understand why cricket appears on the cusp of a comeback in the United States—long after George Washington is said to have taken a few swings at Valley Forge—we should look at why it disappeared. With shorter games and less equipment, baseball surpassed cricket as a way for Civil War soldiers to pass their downtime. After Lee surrendered at Appomattox, those men returned to their hometowns and evangelized what would become known as America’s pastime.

This story is from the June 2024 edition of Vanity Fair US.

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This story is from the June 2024 edition of Vanity Fair US.

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