Shah Rukh Khan and cricket

In a significant development for cricket enthusiasts in the United States, Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan has invested in a cricket stadium near Los Angeles, marking the growing popularity of the sport in the country. The move aims to bring professional-level cricket to the heart of America and cater to the large South Asian populations residing in cities like Houston, New York, and Los Angeles.

The Texas Super Kings, a team co-owned by Anurag Jain and Ross Perot Jr., played their inaugural game against the Los Angeles Knight Riders in Major League Cricket’s first match in the US. Jain, the managing partner of Perot Jain, a prominent venture capital firm, sees this opportunity as a chance to make a lasting impact on the game he has loved since his childhood. Jain and Perot are part of a group of influential Indian-born business people who are bringing the world’s second-most popular game to US audiences.

Cricket, a bat-and-ball sport similar to baseball, has a rich history and a dedicated following. The version being introduced in the US is a shorter format, typically lasting three to four hours, and has gained popularity in various cricket leagues worldwide. Originating in England, the sport is widely played and watched in Commonwealth countries such as India, South Africa, and Australia, and is second only to soccer in global popularity.

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The Indian Premier League (IPL), launched in 2008, has become the commercial heartbeat of cricket, attracting large audiences, renowned players, and substantial investments. The nascent US cricket league has already secured $120 million in investments, with the goal of attracting international superstars and capitalizing on a global fan base.

The Texas Super Kings are currently playing their matches at a stadium in Grand Prairie, Dallas, which has a seating capacity of 6,000. The location provides easy access for fans, being a short drive from the Dallas Cowboys’ 80,000-seat stadium in Arlington. The games are expected to draw diverse crowds, thanks to the team’s partnership with IPL’s Chennai Super Kings and the involvement of influential personalities like Shah Rukh Khan.

With live broadcasts and a mix of ballpark food and South Asian cuisine, the US cricket league aims to create a unique and enjoyable experience for spectators. The league’s first season, broadcast by India’s Viacom18, will run until July 30, featuring players from around the world. Cody Chetty, a South African cricketer who joined the Texas Super Kings, exemplifies the global appeal and aspirations of players participating in the league.

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As cricket gains momentum in the US, there are plans to expand the season from the initial two-week duration to a more typical eight to ten weeks. The success of Major League Cricket could pave the way for a more prominent role for cricket in American sports culture, captivating audiences and fostering a lasting legacy for the sport in the country.

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