Most of my American readers are probably unaware of this. Kevin certainly was. But today is the opening day of the first season of Major League Cricket.
Cricket has been played in the USA before, of course. In particular there has been a lot of contact between the West Indies and folks in Florida. But this is something new. Big money is being thrown at the sport, and inevitably most of it is coming from India.
The inaugural season has six teams based in New York, Washington DC, Dallas-Fort Worth, Seattle, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Four of those teams are owned by IPL franchises. Indeed, the New York side is called Mumbai Indians New York. (They write it MI New York, but we all know what that means.) However, two are more locally financed. I think you can guess which part of the USA has sufficient wealthy Indian entrepreneurs to start a team.
The San Francisco Unicorns belong to a couple of guys who used to work at Amazon. They’ve doubtless done very well out of their shareholdings. For cricket expertise they have entered a partnership with Cricket Victoria, so expect to see a bunch of Melbourne-based players in their side.
Unicorns is an interesting name for the side. And when I tell you that their supporters’ club is called the Sparkle Army I think you’ll jump to the same conclusions as me about some of the people behind the team. This is San Francisco after all.
Currently there is only one stadium capable of hosting first class cricket. It is in Grand Pierre, part of the Dallas-Fort Worth conurbation. The other teams are all building their new homes, including one in San José, but this season’s games will all take place in Texas.
The games will be in T20 format, so they’ll be roughly the same length as a baseball game, but with way more action. Once they find out about the sport, I’m sure the American public will love it.
Today’s match is between Texas (Chennai) and Los Angeles (Kolkata), and is an evening game so middle of the night UK time. Tomorrow sees San Francisco v New York (Mumbai) and there is coverage on BT Sport starting at 9:15pm. In the USA you will need a Willow TV subscription to watch.