Cricket is undoubtedly a niche sport in the U.S. ESPN estimates there are 30 million fans but in terms of participation, Cricket in the US today is where soccer was back in the 1960s. In 1967, there were 100,000 people playing soccer and by 1984, four million Americans were playing soccer. Today, around 200,000 people play cricket in the U.S. Worldwide, Cricket has an estimated 2.5 billion fan base which is bigger than the fan base of golf, baseball, and American Football combined, according to Topend Sports Network. Cricket in the U.S. is awaiting an injection of a professional domestic league, nationwide cable coverage, and booming youth cricket associations, before it can begin the journey into mainstream America. Until then, youth cricket associations are engaging and retaining girls in their cricket programs.
Girls who play and stay in cricket in the U.S. are like diamonds -- precious and rare. I've been fortunate to have met these girls. Ritu Singh of the Missouri Youth Cricket Association (MYCA) and I have played on opposing teams over the past two years. I also coach -- along with my friend and teammate, Sindhu Sriharsha -- the girls of the East Bay Youth Cricket Association (EYCA). They are all a joy to work with and are an inspiration to me. Aged 5 to 9, these girls are very intelligent, heartwarming, and tenacious. Check out the videos and you'll get a glimpse of our future cricketers.
Meet Ritu Singh of the MYCA:
Meet the girls of EYCA:
Founding EYCA Coach, Owen "OG" Graham (R.I.P.), was a good friend and coach to me. He believed in a future where women's cricket in the U.S. will become a "thing". The current cricket climate is not conducive to this development, however as the cliché goes, "the only thing that's constant is change". Because of these intelligent, talented, and inspiring girls, I believe that change will come. In fact, these girls represent the beginning of that change and eventually, they will be ready to pass on the baton and inspire others to keep working for a better cricket future.
At some point in our lives, we would have had parents, mentors, sponsors, or community leaders who helped us explore new activities and figure out what we liked or did not like. Either way, all experiences help shape who we are today. The baton is now in our hands to help build the future women cricketers and I am happy to help them explore this lovely sport whether or not they stick with it. My only hope is that the authorities reopen the pathway that the girls will soon be seeking.