Shah Rukh Khan is a smart businessman and given that he’s investing serious money in North American cricket, it is worth paying more attention to the cricket scene in USA. This interesting piece in the Washington Post explains how the growing size and affluence of the Indian community in Texas has made that state a cricket hub: “The 4- and 5-year-olds are some of the youngest players of Dallas’s burgeoning youth cricket league, an enterprise of acceptance and appreciation built slowly and organically over the last decade by some of the most obsessed fans in the world: Texas’s South Asian immigrant families.
Asian Americans, particularly those from cricket-loving nations, represent the fastest-growing immigrant communities in the United States and Texas, according to 2020 census data. That growth has transformed Texas’s neighborhoods and culture, from food to business to politics. Now, much as Latin American immigrants helped propel soccer to the masses decades ago, they are ushering in, at ever younger ages,…
Some local school districts are now incorporating cricket into physical education classes.”
So why is Texas and specifically North Texas becoming the cricketing hub of America? “…it is Texas, and Dallas more specifically, that is drawing coaches, parents and players to an increasingly sophisticated cricket development infrastructure. The added benefits of plentiful tech jobs and decent weather are turning North Texas into the American hub for international competition — and place of belonging in a country where Asian immigrants may not always feel welcome.”
And in America any sport that can find a fan base will soon find big bucks willing to sponsor the sport. Shah Rukh Khan is not the only deep pocketed investor to have entered the fray: “U.S. Major League Cricket — backed by investors such as Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and billionaire Ross Perot Jr. — has chosen the Dallas suburbs as their headquarters. It is breaking ground this year on its first sanctioned complex, transforming a former minor league baseball diamond into a world-class cricket oval, said Tom Dunmore, the league’s vice president of marketing. The goal is to host the 2024 World Cup for T20 cricket…”
Underpinning all of this is a boom in cricket academies and cricket coaching in North Texas: “One player turned into scores of athletes, his coaching prompted more coaches and soon he was founding Dallas’s first youth cricket academy. Other academies opened as well and the North Texas Youth Cricket League was born, boasting more than 300 players, boys and girls, who spend the bulk of their weekends on the pitch. And their parents — the majority of whom work in information technology — are just as cricket-crazed, watching their kids play for hours and serving samosas and biryani between matches…
…dozens of kids now spend several mornings and afternoons a week practicing at the English Indoor Cricket Academy. The cavernous 16,000-square foot warehouse outfitted with eight batting and bowling lanes is equipped with the same kind of pitching machines used in baseball cages. The machine is retrofitted for a cricket ball and stands higher to deliver a wicked-fast bowl, akin to a baseball throw….
More than 200 parents are now part of the Dallas cricket parents’ group text. They commiserate over cracked vases, holes in the walls and dented front doors caused by their kids practicing inside the house. They plan birthday parties and sleepovers and track their athletes’ stats in a made-for-cricket app that pulls up team standings and baseball card-like profiles of each cricketer.”
The moral of the story is that just as London, Dubai and Singapore now feel like Indian cities, next up it might be North Texas which feels like home away from home.
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