The Ottumwa Courier

AP Sports

August 19, 2013

Cricket participation growing slowly in Iowa, US

(Continued)

Most league members are information technology workers from some of Iowa's largest employers, such as Principal, Wells Fargo and Farmers Mutual Hail. They come primarily from India, but other prominent native lands include Pakistan, Zimbabwe and South Africa.

The Des Moines league is one of about 75 formally sanctioned leagues across the country that play every weekend, according to national cricket experts. Many of the leagues have similar demographics. Some of the largest compete in the technology hotbed of California's Silicon Valley.

Still, the sport remains an afterthought to most Americans.

The nation's growing population of immigrants from countries like India has increased cricket's exposure here. That's good news for USA Cricket CEO Darren Beazley, as long as nonimmigrants embrace the sport, too, he said.

"These people are coming to the country and bringing their game with them," Beazley said. "When you think about it, cricket is the second-largest sport in the world behind soccer. If we can harness that energy and enthusiasm, but take it out of the realm of just this immigrant game, it has tremendous potential."

The sport has long been played in the U.S., which hosted cricket's first international match, in New York in 1844.

But cricket has struggled to take hold in America. Beazley thinks that's primarily because of its reputation as a long, drawn-out competition. Some cricket matches last up to five days.

But a relatively new version of cricket called T20, which is what the Des Moines Cricket League plays, usually ends in about three hours, similar to baseball and football games in the U.S.

"The five-day 'test cricket' is not the right market over here," Beazley said. "I love 'test cricket,' but we don't sit there for five days and watch a chess match."

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