The game of cricket is the world’s second most popular sport
When asked what he likes most about playing cricket, 13-year-old Mayank Jain mentions bowling and batting before deciding on “everything.”
Jain, whose dad used to play the sport, was attending an MVP Youth Cricket Try-it Free event held at Eden Prairie’s Nesbitt Preserve Park.
A number of local youth were in attendance, some even not so local.
“I’m not surprised by the interest,” said organizer Sanjaya Ranasinghe. “There’s a need and there are few local programs.”
MVP Youth Cricket’s first summer session, which runs through the middle of July, is completely full. A second session, which begins July 22 and runs five weeks through August 19 is filling fast. Instruction takes place Thursdays from 6-7:30 p.m. at Nesbitt Park. Register through the City of Eden Prairie (edenprairie.org).
Interest in cricket, the world’s second most popular sport, is exploding.
USA Cricket plans to launch a professional league in 2023. A minor league, which is operating now, consists of 22 teams.
New York and New Jersey both have minor-league programs, as do Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas and Houston.
“We’re not quite top-22 yet,” said Ranasinghe, “maybe top-30.”
At the grass roots level, interest is dependent upon opportunity.
“More programs lead to more interest,” said Ranasinghe, “and more interest leads to more programs.”
There are less than cricket 10 “official” cricket pitches (fields) in Minnesota. Brooklyn Park has five. Minneapolis has two and Eden Prairie has one. Soon, Maple Grove will have one as well.
Similar, but different
While baseball and cricket share similarities, its differences are plain as night and day.
One, cricket is played on a round field.
Two, a cricket bat is wider than a baseball bat.
“You have more control,” said Ranasinghe. “which means you can hit the ball where the other team doesn’t have a fielder.”
A cricket team consists of 11 players and all 11 players bat.
Bowling, like pitching in baseball, is either speed or spin. In cricket, however, the ball hits the pitch before it reaches the batsman.
While most MVP Youth Cricket’s Try-it Free participants came to the event with cricket knowledge or experience, there were a few “first-timers.”
“The program is open to boys and girls ages 5-16,” said Ranasinghe, “but most are in that 6-13 range.”
Most, but not all, have parents who come from countries where cricket is more common.
“A lot of our players come from first-generation immigrant families,” said Ranasinghe. “If they know cricket, and they travel back home, they’ll have something in common. It’s an instant.connection.
There’s bowling, batting and, well, “everything.”