As the culture of sports competition has adapted to the growing South Asian population, the game of cricket has taken root in Texas’ largest city.
why we are here
We are exploring how America defines itself, one at a time. A cricket complex outside of Houston attracts young and professional players alike, reflecting its growing popularity in a changing city.
J. David Goodman and Meridith Kohut watched cricket in Prairieview, Texas and attended the first Major League Cricket Draft in Houston.
Driving northwest from Houston, you’ll suddenly find an impossibly large number of cricket fields along the road as cattle pastures reclaim flat expanses from the tentacled city.
Head south to find a small cricket stadium in the suburbs, or head west to find fields sprawling in county parks.
The game of cricket, a bat-ball and wicket game of endurance and athleticism that originated in England and is poorly understood by most Americans, has become surprisingly entrenched in the country of Friday night football. . The burgeoning South Asian immigrants around Houston and Dallas have imported their favorite sports into their second homes, growing up in a lone star culture of competition in sports and everything else.
The rapid rise of cricket in Houston attracted international attention and helped Texas become the launching pad for the sport’s first professional American league, Major League Cricket. Its inaugural season kicked off Thursday in the Dallas suburbs.
“One of the things you don’t know about Houston is that the many cricketing countries come from different backgrounds,” said Tim Cork, deputy consul general at the British Consulate General in Houston. “There are Indians, there are Pakistanis, there are obviously a lot of British people, and there is an Australian accent everywhere.”
The annual Census Bureau estimates that the number of Indians in Texas has doubled over the past decade to 500,000, including 73,000 in Harris County, which includes Houston. It includes 64,000 people in suburban Fort Bend County.
“When I came to this country, the only sport I knew was cricket,” said KP George, county judge of Fort Bend, who immigrated to the United States from India in 1993. None of the county parks were used when he was elected in 2018. There was also a cricket field, he said. There are now seven of him, each reserved for play months in advance.
“There is a big demand,” he said. “We are working on a few more areas.”
The speed at which sports are developing in Houston amazes even those who have worked hard to make it happen.
In March, Houston hosted a new Pro League player draft meeting at the Johnson Space Center, one of the city’s biggest tourist destinations.The league’s newly formed teams converged on a field northwest of Houston this month. for training camps.
“I always thought we were building slowly,” said Mangesh Chaudhary, 38, owner of the Prairieview Cricket Complex. Since 2018, he has overseen the task of flattening and dividing a swath of farmland about 80 miles northwest of the city into six sections. oval cricket field. “Suddenly the cricket started flying.”
Located on a major highway in Prairie View, Texas, the site has clay soil suitable for grassy pitches where cricketers pitch and bat, as well as free advertising to traffic on US 290. was able to provide
Conceived and funded by Houston businessman Tanwiah Ahmed, the project was a gamble by Field of Dreams that people would come if it was built. Chaudhary said it worked better and faster than expected, adding that the complex is still under development. For example, there are still no lights or permanent toilets.
On a weekday in June, dozens of cars poured into the cricket grounds. Young players arrived from Atlanta and Dallas to attend youth tournaments with bats and big padded bags in the heat.
“Good luck boys! Good luck! Play hard!” Gorham Nausher, 61, yelled to Houston-area teenagers on the field.
Nausher immigrated from Bangladesh where he has been a star and coaching young cricketers around Houston. He watched the team take to the plate at the start of the nearly five-hour match, joking about cricket and careers with the players who crowded the bleachers in the small, shaded square.
“Who does AI research?” he asked.
“I study computer science,” said one player.
“Did you ever think you were going to be a doctor?” replied Mr. Nausher.
Team captain Aria Canantha, 17, said she was thinking about college and joining the US national team while waiting for her turn at bat. Despite the growth of cricket around Houston, suburban Katy had few of his classmates. Largest and most expensive high school football stadium Cricket was familiar in this country.
“Not many people play this at my school,” said Aria. He laughed and added: “They just think it’s baseball, which is weird.”
Far from a curiosity, cricket is a passion of Texas’s burgeoning South Asian community, poised to grow into a large company attracting major local investors, including Cricket’s son and businessman Ross Perot Jr. is made. independent presidential candidate. Perot is the owner of the local major league team, the Texas Super Kings, along with business partner Anurag Jain.
Perot said he recently discussed cricket with Governor Greg Abbott during a visit by former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. “I said, ‘Sir. Prime Minister, I want you to know that we are bringing cricket to this state,’ said Mr Perot. “He was in shock, but he loved it.”
Jain, who grew up a cricketer in Chennai, India and now lives in Dallas, said he invested in the emerging U.S. professional league because of the sport’s large international fan base and large Texas fan base. encouraged. “They say food is a way to move people,” Jain says. “Cricket is the way into the hearts of South Asians. It’s not just a sport, it’s a way of life.”
The advent of cricket led some leaders at Prairie View, home to the historically black state university Prairie View A&M, to believe that the tournament would be a financially-strapped event, even though there were few cricket enthusiasts and few South. It gives hope that it will become a source of income for the town. Asian residents.
“Our stance is to help them and help them grow,” said county commissioner and college graduate Kendrick Jones. “It’s a tourist attraction.”
One night in March, hundreds gathered at the Johnson Space Center for a major league cricket player draft meeting.
Indoors, under suspended satellites and astronaut suits, cricket fans and investors in the league’s six founding teams, based in New York, Seattle, Washington, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Texas, are looking for a promising future. I interacted with young players.
Harmeet Singh, the No. 1 overall draft pick who played for Mumbai, recently moved from Seattle to a large house in Katy, a suburb of Houston.
“If the weather is nice, we can play more here,” said Shin, 30, as he stood with his wife and two-year-old daughter. “It was an upgrade. We lived in a Seattle apartment for the same price.”
In the back of the museum hall, by a large space capsule and a small hamburger table, stood many of the people who helped shape the sport in Houston. Among them was Yogesh Patel, 75, who started a cricket club after arriving in Houston nearly 50 years ago.
“I feel like what I dreamed of in 1976 has come true,” he said, looking around. “Houston has become the center of cricket in America.”