The sport of cricket dominates South Asia, and has gained in popularity in the U.S., especially among the South Asian immigrant community. In recent years, local parks have added cricket pitches. Children are playing cricket during school recesses. And a variety of cricket leagues have formed in the Seattle area over the last two decades, ranging from recreational to highly competitive. A local cricket team even won a national minor league title in August.
Naturally, parents have tried to pass down their passion for the sport to their children, albeit with mixed results. Some of the children have taken it up, while many others have given it up in order to partake in other activities.
Anupama Menon, a cricket coach in her mid-40s at the American Recreational Cricket League (ARCL), has been playing cricket most of her life. She started playing as a middle schooler in India when her father introduced her to the sport. She soon began playing frequently with her brother and friends.
Menon remembers the joy she felt watching India win their most important game, the Cricket World Cup, in 1983. She wanted to pass that joy on to her two young daughters, even after leaving India for the U.S. Her daughters, Sunehra, 10, and Nayantara, 18, both played for the ARCL under teams coached by their mother.
“It’s just our culture,” Menon said. “We grew up around playing cricket.”
Menon succeeded in instilling a love of cricket among her daughters, and she considers their household “a cricket playing household.”
Cricket is also big in Yogita Manghnani’s home. Manghnani, now 43, started playing cricket in India at age 10. She has competed in the ARCL since 2002. She remembers enjoying cricket with her family as a child, and wanted to pass it onto her children.
Manghnani introduced cricket and a variety of other sports to both her son and daughter, but only her son gravitated to it. Her daughter Niha, a high schooler, had a greater passion for badminton, another sport that Manghnani plays.
Manghnani’s husband, Dinesh Murthay, who is in his mid-40s, taught their son, Raunak Dinesh, 11, the intricacies of the game.
Murthay started playing cricket at age 7 in India. It continues to be his favorite sport. He said it “allows you to mentally hone your critical thinking” and “lets individuals express their flair,” whether through running, batting, bowling or catching. He enjoyed teaching his son how to play, because it provided them the opportunity to bond and spend time together.
His son, Raunak, even went to Atlanta for a tournament with his team. Raunak said that learning cricket “was fun but it was also hard.” It has also become his favorite sport and he would like to continue playing for as long as he can.
Cricket did not work out for Musa Salman, 17. He used to play with his family, and was introduced to the sport by his father, who played it in his native Pakistan. But Salman has since stopped due to a lack of time. The shortest cricket matches are four hours long. Some can last five days. This makes it hard for people who are not playing professionally to stay consistent with their training and competition. As children get older and gain more responsibilities, their time for cricket decreases.
As Salman grew older, he had to give up cricket to focus on his academics. His cricket community also became smaller because others faced similar time constraints. Eventually, he knew very few of his peers who continued to play the sport. Some of them moved on to more “American” sports like football and baseball, which is more readily accessible after school.
Most young people in Sammamish with family ties to cricket learn to play when they are young, but some have given it up due lack of time. Unless local schools embrace cricket by adding it to their sports programs, passion for the sport may fade with each new generation, just as links to their homeland also fade over time.
To keep up with the sport of cricket, you can find a cricket league in your area here.