History of cricket
Baseball may be thought of as an American sport with a long and illustrious history, but cricket actually predates it. In fact, cricket was being played here before it became the United States, and historical records as early as 1737 have chronicled its existence.
Even though baseball eventually eclipsed cricket in popularity, it drew large crowds well into the early 20th century. In 1840, the annual USA/Canada game attracted more than 10,000 spectators. If that number is scaled to reflect the current population of the United States, it would mean that if it was played today, over 100,000 people would have watched that game!
In 1965, the US was admitted as an associate member to the International Cricket Council (ICC) and participated in the first ICC Trophy Tournament in 1979 and the ICC Six Nations Tournaments in UAE in 2004, which it won to qualify for the ICC Champions Trophy in England that the same year.
Now fast forward to today. Cricket continues as a much-loved, multicultural and multi-ethnic amateur sport and is passionately played in all corners of the country. There are over 25,000 active players who are members of more than fifty leagues and 1,100 clubs across the United States. As most players are immigrants from all over the world, cricket is one of the most diverse sports in the US.
International cricket and developing the game
There are many forms of cricket being played, including taped softball and tennis ball cricket (no protective clothing), and the more traditional hardball form of cricket. With other forms for youth such as kwik cricket, as well as six-a-side, the sport can be played in time spans that ranges from as little as two hours to a full day.
With over 600 playing fields in the US, anybody of any skill level and gender should find playing opportunities within easy reach of where they live.
USA Cricket Association (USACA) is governed by an elected Board composed of regional representatives and national officers. USACA is a 501(c)3 registered charity with its primary missions being the development and expansion of cricket for women and young people in the United States, and to select and field competitive squads in all categories for play at the international level.
Domestically, USACA employs a pyramidal system of competitions and tournaments to find national players and to encourage the growth of cricket throughout the country. At the bottom of the pyramid is the true foundation of USA cricket: the member clubs that play in various league tournaments in the eight regions across the USA.
The regions also organize inter-league tournaments, which are primarily used to identify players for selection to represent their respective regions. From these inter-league regional tournaments, regions select regional teams to participate in annual national tournaments. These national tournaments are at the top of the pyramid and are used for selection to USA national teams.
The USA's flagship youth tournament is the New York City Public School Athletic League (PSAL) high school tournament implemented in 2008, with fourteen high schools participating. In the 2012 season twenty-six high schools will be participating with over 400 student athletes competing. Many of the players from this program have gone on to represent the New York region and the USA at the international level. This is true varsity cricket being played in the USA bringing cricket to the estimated 60, 000 students enrolled in the participating schools.
USACA's regions compete annually in USA U19 and U15 National Tournaments with its selected U15 and U19 teams dominating ICC Americas Regional U19 and U15 Tournaments over the last 3 years. In addition, there are many cricket academies across the United States providing training, coaching and opportunities for young cricketers to develop and master various skills.
From sea to shining sea these cricket academies are the mainstay of grassroots cricket throughout the USA. Owned, operated and managed by parents and volunteers they offer kids basic training and opportunity.
Women's cricket is relatively new on the scene in the US, but its roots are strong and rapidly spreading. Each region has a women's coordinator who sits on the regional administrative boards and is responsible for the growth and development of women's cricket in his/her respective region. Going forward, USACA is committed to building on our initial phase and developing women's cricket at all levels across the United States: national, regional, league, and club.
The crowning achievement in USACA Women's cricket is the participation of the Women's team in ICC Women's World Cup Qualifier in Bangladesh in November 2011. The team followed up by winning all its matches at the Americas 2012 Tournament in Cayman Islands but failed to qualify for the Women's World Cup due to NRR.