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Dallas, It’s Time We Get Acquainted With Professional Cricket

A primer on the most audacious pro sports experiment since Major League Soccer launched 30 years ago.
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There's more to this story than meets the eye. Case in point: the guy in this photo is the great hope of American cricket—and an accounting major at UTD.

The following is a team-building exercise. Take a moment to unplug, clear your mind, and reflect on one simple question.

What do you know about the sport of cricket?

I’ll go first, because stuff like this works best on mutual trust: prior to reporting the story you’re about to read, nothing.

Sure, I’d seen a bat and a mask and the pads. I was vaguely aware of the term “sticky wicket” and that matches, in the oldest and original format, can last days. The athletes seemed to wear a lot of white. Sweaters, too.

But functionally speaking, I knew absolutely nothing of value. So little, in fact, that I purchased Cricket 22 on Xbox One so to get even the most basic grasp of how the sport is played. And I say all of this as the dude this magazine pays to be a professional sports degenerate.

So it’s OK if you don’t know much, either. But it’s time to start, because cricket’s attempt to conquer the United States will be one of the most significant sports stories in America this decade, and it will play out right here in North Texas.

Why? Because cricket is the second-most popular sport in the world, in terms of its number of fans. It’s huge in India, England, Australia, Pakistan, New Zealand, South Africa, the Caribbean—a whole lot of regions that aren’t here, basically. Meanwhile, the Southeast Asian population in both the United States and North Texas has been on a steady climb since the dot-com boom, creating a generation of highly skilled, highly compensated workers who are cricket mad without an outlet for it.

You can see the gears turning.

A lot of people with a lot of money would like to see a game that’s worked in all sorts of other places that aren’t the most-sports obsessed nation on Earth. Why shouldn’t we try this in the United States, too?

That is what’s about to happen later this week when Major League Cricket debuts in Grand Prairie Stadium, which was previously known as AirHogs Stadium, home to a minor-league baseball team called the Texas Constellations*.

*I’m kidding. They were the AirHogs. Your guess is as good as mine on why they picked the name and, for that matter, what an AirHog is in the first place.

All of that serves as the backdrop for how I got assigned the story. Seemed straightforward enough, give or take the initial hurdle of learning a whole lot about a sport I, again, knew precious little about going in.

Except it’s not, and that’s the fun part. Because in addition to shoring up that dearth of cricket knowledge—it’s a lot of fun, the version we’re getting in the U.S. is about the length of a baseball game, and no one will be wearing sweaters—I came to learn a few more things, too.

Like the breadth of international backgrounds this story touches. (I’ve never interviewed more people from different nationalities for a story.)

And that the protagonists range from an accounting major at UTD to an internationally known New Zealander who moved to Lakewood after following in love with a woman from Highland Park.

And the fact that while six different American cities are represented in the league, North Texas is the only one with a high-end cricket stadium, which makes us the test kitchen for everything Major League Cricket is trying to accomplish.

And the teensy, weensy little detail that this could all fall flat—and if it does, the United States may never get another crack at high-level cricket.

Ready to learn a few things about cricket? The story is online today.  

Author

Mike Piellucci

Mike Piellucci

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Mike Piellucci is D Magazine's sports editor. He is a former staffer at The Athletic and VICE, and his freelance…
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