SPORTS Over two decades ago, Bill Bryson, a writer from Iowa, wrote of cricket that the English did not invent it “as a way of making all other human endeavours look interesting and lively; that was merely an unintended side effect.” The world’s second-most-watched sport, he said, “is the only sport in which spectators burn as many calories as players” (clearly Mr Bryson never watched a darts match, or saw Ben Stokes bat). His description of play compared it to a form of baseball, only with more absurd dress and far slower.

 

Yet the first international cricket match took place between the United States and Canada in 1844, and before the civil war the sport was more popular in America than baseball. In more recent years the sport has quietly been gaining adherents.

On July 13th the first professional American cricket league will start play, for a 19-match tournament, hosted primarily at a former baseball stadium in Dallas. Six teams, representing five large American cities and Texas, will compete in “Major League Cricket” (

MLC ). They will play the Twenty20, or T 20, format of the game, invented in 2003 as a faster version (by comparison, the current matches between England and Australia can each last for a gripping five days). Professionals from all over the world are being flown in. The plan, says Tom Dunmore, the league’s spokesman, is that this will eventually evolve into a full-blown regular competition.

 

 

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