2012 Philadelphia International Cricket Festival Bowls Over the Competition

Vesko Kostic, for Global Philadelphia Association -- Among the white uniforms and cries of “wicket!,” it is easy to be confused at what exactly is going on. This bat-and-ball game looks a lot like U.S. American baseball, except that the teams have 11 players as opposed to baseball's nine, and the bat is made of an English willow tree. 

Each year, a dedicated group of enthusiasts meet in Philadelphia to celebrate the international sport of cricket at the Philadelphia International Cricket Festival. While the sport’s popularity in the United States has customarily lagged, around the globe the sport is well-received and widespread. Primarily, the sport of cricket is most popular in the British Commonwealth nations, paralleling baseball’s popularity stateside. As the population of immigrants from the Commonwealth rises (mostly from India), they bring with them a serious interest in cricket. This is evident across college campuses, where an increasing number of cricket bats have joined lacrosse sticks as major obstructions to the ever-popular Frisbee.

The Philadelphia International Cricket Festival is one of the major organized cricket events in the U.S. It attracts about 300 hundred of the best cricket players from around the world to compete at the Philadelphia Cricket Club in Chestnut Hill. The Philadelphia Cricket Club was founded in 1854, and is the oldest country club in the nation, and is home to the Haverford Cricket Museum. Each year, the Festival makes a point to help fund youth cricket interests in the Region, hopefully increasing the fan base of the sport, and giving kids a safe and fun activity.

As more and more people come to Philadelphia from the Commonwealth nations, an increasing trend recently, the prevalence of cricket has also risen, though not without some modification. Cricket games, traditionally, can last up to 5 days, but in the U.S., cricket is played in shorter spurts called 20/20 matches, a length more in keeping with the timelines of other popular U.S. American sports. With some deference to cultural differences, cricket in the U.S. yet preserves much of its original charm, right own to the plain white uniforms. This charm is gaining increasing traction among younger generations, so much that the Philadelphia Sports Congress is considering holding two festivals in the future, one in the spring and one in the fall.

Global Philadelphia Association will of course keep you up-to-date with any news towards this end.

See photos from this year's Philadelphia International Cricket Festival here on GPA's Flickr Photostream. Photos courtesy of Vesko Kostic, for Global Philadelphia Association. All Rights Reserved.