Youth Camps Aim To Spread Cricket Popularity In U.S. Say the word "cricket" and most Americans would think you're talking about the insect. But outside the U.S., cricket is a game played by millions of people. Beginning today, though, the equivalent of the World Series for U.S. cricket begins in Florida. Most of the players learned the sport in another country. But now some youth cricket camps are aiming to change that.
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Youth Camps Aim To Spread Cricket Popularity In U.S.

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Youth Camps Aim To Spread Cricket Popularity In U.S.

Youth Camps Aim To Spread Cricket Popularity In U.S.

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From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.


And I'm Melissa Block.

Today, in Florida, a sports championship got under way: not football or baseball, but U.S. cricket's version of the World Series. Cricket hasn't taken off here in the States, though that could change thanks to little league cricket camps.

From member station WABE, Shomial Ahmad takes us to one camp in Atlanta.

SHOMIAL AHMAD: Cricket's a lot like baseball, but not really. The game is longer and more technical, but there's one simple thing that will keep kids focused on the game. That's what Anind Tamala(ph) tells his kids at the little league cricket camp.

Mr. ANIND TAMALA: That is the most important aspect of cricket. Keep your eyes on the...

Unidentified Children: Ball.

Mr. TAMALA: Keep your what on the ball?

Unidentified Children: Eyes.

AHMAD: There are 40 or so kids mostly of Indian descent here. There are drills in pitching, batting and fielding. The youngest kids are standing in a crooked line. It's the second week of camp and they've already claimed their favorite positions.

Ms. HARMON SINGHSUAR(ph): My name is Harmon, I'm from Atlanta and I like to bowl.

Mr. ROHAN SONI(ph): My name is Rohan, and I like to bat.

Mr. TYRON LESSING(ph): My name is Tyron Lessing, and I'm from South Africa and I like to wicket-keep.

AHMAD: Harmon Singhsuar, Rohan Soni and Tyron Lessing are the baseball equivalents of a pitcher, batter and catcher. A typical one-day cricket game can go on for more than seven hours. Unlike baseball, the batter runs with a bat and fielders don't use gloves. But to really understand the difference between cricket and baseball, ask seven-year-old Rohan Soni.

Mr. SONI: In cricket there's a harder ball and there's a bigger bat. And instead of four bases there's two bases. You run up and down. There's, like, a one run, two run, three run, a four run and a six run, which is a home run in baseball.

AHMAD: It's a little unusual these kids are learning cricket in the U.S. By some estimates, fewer than 200,000 people play the sport here, despite its popularity in many other countries. Peter de la Pena(ph) is one of the few journalists who covers cricket in the States. He says most people who play the game here are adults who learned it in another country.

Mr. PETER DE LA PENA (Journalist): Compared to other U.S. sports like Pee Wee Ice Hockey and Pop Warner Football and Little League Baseball, where those play numbers of the youth although dwarf the adult play numbers, you don't have that in cricket. Ninety percent of the people who amateur cricket in the U.S. are adults.

AHMAD: He says high school leagues in New York City, university clubs and little league camps could increase the game's popularity. But practically all of the kids at this Atlanta academy are here because their fathers played the game.

Manjit Singh Soor(ph) takes his nine-year-old son to the camp.

Mr. MANJIT SINGH SOOR: Cricket runs in our family. My dad used to play for a club in India. My brother, he played at a certain level. I used to play for the Cricket Association back in India.

AHMAD: He doesn't expect his kid to turn pro. He just wants him to be active and maybe someday play at a bigger level, like the senior nationals which start today in Florida.

For NPR News, I'm Shomail Ahmad in Atlanta.

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