The 2015 Cricket World Cup — a 14-team, six-week event held every four years — begins Saturday in Australia and New Zealand. The U.S. team did not qualify; however, here are 10 ways Americans are involved in the sport.
10. Alice Cooper watches cricket
While on tour in the UK in August 2012, Cooper, a Detroit native, attended a test match between England and South Africa at iconic Lord’s Cricket Ground in London. He was interviewed by the BBC’s brilliant Test Match Special radio show. “We watch this game in the States and get an idea of what it’s about. But I now have an appreciation of the game,” Cooper said in the interview. “That thing [the ball] is coming in at 90 mph!”
9. A Texan and a dark chapter in the sport
Allen Stanford, from Mexia, Tex., ran a $7 billion Ponzi scheme mostly out of his bank based in Antigua before being arrested in February 2009. According to CNBC, he bilked more than 20,000 investors. Before that infamy, Stanford was one of the world’s most enthusiastic cricket promoters. He founded a league in the Caribbean, built a 10,000-seat stadium next to the airport in Antigua and even sponsored a one-day match between England and the “Stanford Superstars,” a collection of top West Indies players, in November 2008. He promised $20 million to the winning team – the Superstars, as it turns out – but never delivered. Stanford is serving a 110-year federal prison sentence. His defunct cricket stadium in Antigua, complete with Yankee Stadium-like plaques of great West Indies players, is overrun by weeds but otherwise looks eerily usable.
8. An actor and a fan
Mark Wahlberg is part-owner of the Bermuda Tridents cricket team in the Caribbean Premier League. “I am a huge cricket fan now,” Walhberg said in a news release announcing the purchase in 2013.
7. Joseph O’Neill’s “Netherland”
2008 novel praised by President Obama is set in New York soon after 9/11. The protagonist, born in the Netherlands, assimilates to life in the U.S. largely by playing cricket in a league with other immigrants on Staten Island.
6. It all began here
The first international cricket match was played between the United States and Canada in New York’s Bloomingdale Park in September 1844. Canada won by 23 runs.
5. At least one Heisman Trophy winner played cricket
Army’s Pete Dawkins, the 1958 Heisman winner, played several sports – including cricket – during his two years as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford in 1960-61. There is newsreel footage of “Peter Dawkins” titled “Yank at Oxford plays cricket.” Of his cricket career, Dawkins said later, “I was a lumbering ox.”
4. Ike watched the sport, for a day
Speaking of former Army football players, President Eisenhower attended one day of a test match (they last five days) between Pakistan and Australia in Karachi in 1959.
3. Quid pro quo
President Obama hosted British Prime Minister David Cameron at an NCAA tournament men’s basketball game in Dayton, Ohio, in March 2012. Obama joked that, in return, Cameron would teach him the rules of cricket.
2. Cricket heads to the streets of LA
The Compton Cricket Club (CCC), founded in 1995 in Los Angeles, has toured the UK four times and Australia once, in 2011. According to the club Web site, “CCC’s mission is to curb the negative effects of gang activities amongst the youth of Compton, South Central Los Angeles and all inner cities and address homelessness through the principles and ethics of cricket.” The CCC has been the subject of dozens of stories from worldwide media; it claims to be the only American-born cricket team in the world.
1. One of the most picturesque cricket stadiums in England was built by an American
Philanthropist Paul Getty, a San Francisco native, fell in love with the sport after watching matches on TV with ardent cricket fan Mick Jagger in London in the 1970s. In 1984, Getty bought a 2,500-acre estate in Buckinghamshire, England. There, he built a cricket stadium complete with a Tudor pavilion and thatched-roof scorer’s hut. Getty also built a movie theater in the main house where he would watch 8 mm films of cricket matches. Getty died in 2003 but his stadium still is used by teams at all levels of the sport. In a 1993 interview, Getty said he built the stadium for “cricket without a commercial side, cricket just for the fun of it, not caring which side wins, just for the pleasure of the game.” It is considered the quintessential English cricket stadium.