September 7, 2006

USA

Cricket in America on the rise

Will

Simon Worral, in the BBC’s From Our Own Correspondent radio programme, reports on the rise of cricket in America in which he watched the semi-final between Tropical Sports Club and North Atlanta.

But it felt like Sunday in Antigua. Under an awning, a large-hipped lady in a bandana barbecued jerk chicken in an oil drum. Men sat under the trees drinking Red Stripe and reminiscing about home. A copy of Ovid's Metamorphoses lay open on the ground.

The silver-haired man standing next to me was not any old bystander. His name was Desmond Lewis and in his cricketing heyday he had opened the batting for the Windies with Sir Garfield Sobers.

Cricket, he told me, has grown exponentially in America. When Des arrived in 1978, he could not find 11 players to make a team.

He also makes mention of the long (and often unknown) history of American cricket:

Though few people either side of the Atlantic know it, cricket has a long history in the United States. It was once the national game and the annual fixture against Canada, which was first played in the 1840s. It is the oldest international sporting event in the modern world, predating today's Olympic Games by nearly 50 years.

The earliest account of a cricket match in North America comes from a plantation owner in Westover, Virginia, named William Byrd. "I rose at six o'clock and read a chapter in Hebrew," he noted in a diary he kept between 1709 and 1712. About 10 o'clock Dr Blair, and Major and Captain Harrison came to see us. After I had given them a glass of sack we played cricket. I ate boiled beef for my dinner."

A fascinating article. Read it, or you can also listen to it.

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