If the proposal to develop a $500 million, 15,000-capacity cricket stadium—which would anchor a mixed-use complex in the Dallas suburb of Allen, Texas—is any indication, the sport is growing in popularity in the United States.
Cricket is the world’s second most popular sport after soccer.
In January, the International Cricket Council named USA Cricket as its 105th member. But it’s taken some time for the sport to grow in the U.S. Slowly, cricket is becoming more popular as the south Asians population are seeking out the sport.
It’s the reason, M. Maruf Alam, who was born in Bangladesh, decided to create a that hosted it its inaugural event, NCL-2019 July 4-7 at Lincoln, Lindsay and Tippecanoe Parks in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Here’s what you should know about Alam, the CEO of the National Cricket League, and the game of cricket.
Why is cricket to taking off in the U.S. now?
Traditionally, cricket has always been a five-day game, and the match result would go most of the time draw. Then it got a bit shorter with one-day, but it was still a seven-hour match. In 2003, the shortest and most exciting version of cricket—which we call T20—was introduced and became popular. Both teams have a single inning each, with a maximum of 20 overs. [Each innings lasts around 100 minutes with a 10-minute break in the middle.] That’s helped it become popular in the U.S. because the whole match will only be three and a half to four-hours.
You started planning this event two years ago and hope to establish a professional cricket league here eventually. What were some of the initial steps you took to get this off the ground?
When we started this campaign, we have discussed with several sports leaders, organizers, promoters, investors across the U.S.. We have sat down with several legal groups, including the National Sports Law Institute of Marquette University, where Dr. Paul Anderson is the director, to formulate a unified franchise agreement and [figure out] how we can make it more professional. We created a 32-page franchise agreement similar to the NFL or NBA.
Why did you pick July 4 weekend to host this event?
Fourth of July weekend is a popular weekend for cricket. Our goal is to not only run the league but to popularize cricket in the U.S. Since teams will come from different parts of the U.S., a long weekend in summer was the best time to organize the event.
What are some tips for people watching cricket for the first time?
People will think they are [watching] baseball, but there are only two bases, not three. In the T20 version, you will see a lot of scoring of fours and sixes. [If the ball is hit to the boundary and touches the ground, the batting team scores four runs. If the ball is hit out of the boundary—like a home run in baseball—that’s six runs.] Cricket is all about the run game. If the first team scores 100 runs, then the second team has to win by more than 100 runs with their ten wickets (players).
How do you end up in Wisconsin after growing up in Bangladesh?
In 1954, my dad came to this country for his higher study and went back to Bangladesh for his government job. I grew up with the ambition that someday I would come to this great country to work and study. I finally came over in December 2007 to work for a civil engineering company. I’m a computer engineer with an MBA. I’ve done IT project management and business development at the federal, state, and local municipalities level. That [experience] helped me [when I started organizing National Cricket League] to talk to people from different states and communities, to do the various government and business paperwork, and get other people on board to establish an NCL Group with franchise and associate teams.
What are your favorite things about Milwaukee?
Summerfest, which a lot of people don’t know, is the largest music fest in Milwaukee. I love it. The second thing is Harley-Davidson. When I was a kid, I had a dream I would have a Harley-Davidson. When I first moved in Milwaukee, I didn’t know Milwaukee was a home of Harley-Davidson. I might buy a Fat Boy this summer. Where do you like to go out to eat? I like Pakistani, Indian, Bangladeshi food, but my wife cooks very good food. When we go out, we try to eat other foods. Outback Steakhouse is one of my favorites. I get a steak and the blooming onion.