Cricket Gains Popularity in the U.S.


Media by Ben Hughes (he/him)

In the U.S., baseball is the preferred bat-and-ball game. However, cricket is gaining popularity in the US. “With new initiatives, cricket is at the path to grow,” Ajay Jhamb, founder of American Cricket Academy & Club (ACAC) said.

After the 2011 Cricket World Cup, Aarya Khanna, junior, found a love for cricket. 

Khanna started watching matches on the TV and playing cricket with his brother and cousins in his backyard in Indiana. This interest followed Khanna when he moved to St. Louis in 2012. 

Currently, Khanna plays with the American Cricket Academy & Club (ACAC) for the Minor League team, St. Louis Americans.

“If it hadn’t been for my Indian background, I would never have gotten interested in the sport,”  Khanna said. “Without that exposure, it would have been very unlikely that I would eventually be playing eight years down the line.” 

As an Indian-American, cricket allowed Khanna to connect with his culture. 

“The fact that I am familiar with cricket gives me a connection to family in India which I can use to further my relationships with them,” Khanna said. 

In 2021, the T20 World Cup took place from Oct. 17  to Nov. 14. The winner was Australia, while India got kicked out in the quarterfinals. The US will co-host the 2024 T20 World Cup for the first time with the West Indies, according to The Guardian

In the U.S., baseball is the preferred bat-and-ball game with The World Series that has millions of viewers each year. Cricket is overshadowed by this competitor. 

Jay Medasani, freshman, is a baseball player who used to play cricket when he was younger. He said he faced some difficulties, due to the differences between baseball and cricket. 

“The swing for cricket and baseball are different, so I used to confuse my swings,” Medasani said. “I had to stop because it messed up my baseball career.” 

Medasani said he understands the lack of popularity in the U.S. compared to the rest of the world. 

“There’s already baseball here, so there’s not really a need for cricket,” Medasani said. “Most other countries don’t play baseball, which is why cricket is probably more popular there.” 

Despite cricket’s low popularity in the U.S., many still play the sport. The US has more than 200,000 cricket players, according to USA Cricket

As cricket becomes more popular in the U.S., the ventures to play have gotten bigger too. Khanna’s coach, Ajay Jhamb is the founder and president of ACAC. 

Jhamb started coaching in 2014 when his friend’s children asked him to teach them cricket. In 2015, the ACAC was established. Jhamb started the academy because he could give back to the community with cricket, which has been a life-changing experience for him. 

“There was a need for someone to start the program and teach the kids because there was a passion in a few kids. The response has been huge,” Jhamb said. “It’s amazing how quickly we have grown. We have top-class coaches from across the globe come to St. Louis.”

Currently, the ACAC teaches about 400 kids cricket every year. 

“With proper setup of U.S. cricket, now Minor League Cricket exists. With new initiatives, cricket is at the path to grow, “ Jhamb said.  “I think it’s just a journey like soccer or lacrosse did 15 – 20 years back. We are at that point.”

Jhamb, who is Indian, decided that the community needed a venue for cricket. Among the over 1 billion cricket fans from around the world, the Indian subcontinent has more than 90 percent of these cricket fans, according to The Economic Times.

“For the South Asian community, this is not a game —this is a religion,” Jhamb said.  “Kids want to play, but they don’t have an avenue and ecosystem to play. Somebody had to create that. Kids deserve to play a sport, which they enjoy.”

Students in the Rockwood School District do have an avenue to get involved in cricket. 

Jhamb said RSD has some cricket programs. The ACAC has trained the PE teachers and provided schools with kits. If MHS students want to go join the ACAC, they can visit the ACAC website and social media for more information.