Cricket comes to Texas
Cricket comes to Texas
30 NOVEMBER 2020 8:12 AM

The U.S. will get to know the world’s most popular sport as plans call for a cricket stadium, hotel and other related hospitality offerings to be built in the game’s new U.S. headquarters in Grand Prairie, Texas.

The wonderful game of cricket and the vast state of Texas might not seem obvious bedfellows, but I hear that there is a definite push (a push is a term for one type of cricket shot, too) to make Grand Prairie, Texas, the U.S. capital of all things googlies, legs before wicket and corridors of uncertainty, to use some of favorite phrases of cricket legend and commentator Geoffrey Boycott.

Cricket probably is a difficult idea for many to get their heads around, especially in a sports-soaked nation such as the U.S. with its American football, baseball and basketball obsessions, but it is wildly popular around the world, fanatically so, and any large development will come with hotels.

Ice hockey has become very popular in the U.S., a relatively recent phenomenon at least in states below the latitudinal line of Virginia and Oregon, so new sports can be adopted even if they are not right now going to get top billing on the TV channels. (I was told off once vehemently by a Torontonian for using “ice hockey,” rather than just “hockey,” but where I am from, field hockey is just hockey, so one must go.)

The Grand Prairie development, according to an article in CoStar News, the sister publication of Hotel News Now and owned by CoStar, is the brainchild of Major League Cricket, owned by USA Cricket, which will make the development its headquarters.

Grand Prairie is approximately 15 miles west of Dallas, about the distance of one lifted six from the bat of Ben Stokes.

My colleague Candace Carlisle’s article reports that architecture firm HKS will put into action $10 million of redevelopment of AirHogs Stadium, with plans that will nearly double its existing 5,445 seats that were the homes of fans of the Texas AirHogs minor-league baseball club.

Cricket evidently is nearly twice as popular in the U.S. as is baseball. Numbers do not lie.

According to Pew Social Trends, the population of those regarding themselves as Indian who live in the U.S. has grown from approximately 2 million in 2000 to approximately 4 million in 2015.

That colossal number refers to those from the largest cricket-following nation, but not all of them—others include Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. Those from the Caribbean who play and follow cricket are joined in terms of a team by the name West Indies.

A healthy number of those will want to follow cricket in the U.S., and with the large distances between franchises, they will want to stay for a night or two at a hotel while enjoying the action, especially if those distances require the host and the visitor to play several games to cut down on travel costs.

Perhaps cricket teams developed in the U.S. will follow the trajectory of soccer teams there, with their starting elevens consisting of home-grown talent joined by international stars who might be nearing the ends of their careers.

The sport will remain a niche in the U.S. and no doubt focus on games that (and here it gets tricky, thanks to a mountain of cricket jargon) that consist of 120 balls or deliveries across 20 overs (there are six deliveries per over, and then a new bowler bowls from the other end of the wicket, but I can sense I’ve already lost a lot of readers already).

Suffice to say, cricket fans are every bit as crazed over their sport and heroes that they will spend cash on hotel stays and other hospitality.

A source quoted in the article said something that I do take umbrage at, something along the lines of “slower sports like cricket…”

Slower! Anyone who has seen Dennis Lillee, Mitchell Johnson, Bob Willis, Joel Garner, Umesh Yadav and others bowl—and certainly those who have almost had their eyebrows taken off by a bouncing delivery from them—might disagree.

So, get ready for learning about slips, gullies, silly mid-ons, leg byes, reverse sweeps, wides, no balls, maiden overs and umpires.

Wait a moment! See, you already know that last term. Game on!

Email Terence Baker or find him on Twitter.

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