“The game is both very British and, to Americans, very confusing. But it was once our national pastime, and its gaining fans on these shores.”
Simon Worrall in Smithsonian Magazine:
Cricket—now played by millions of people in 92 countries ranging from the Caribbean to Europe to Africa to South Asia—was once the national game of, yes, these United States. And one of the first outdoor sports to be played on these shores. An 1844 cricket match between teams from the United States and Canada was the first international sporting event in the modern world, predating the revival of the Olympic Games by more than 50 years.
In a diary he kept between 1709 and 1712, William Byrd, owner of the Virginia plantation Westover, noted, “I rose at 6 o’clock and read a chapter in Hebrew. About 10 o’clock Dr. Blair, and Major and Captain Harrison came to see us. After I had given them a glass of sack we played cricket. I ate boiled beef for my dinner. Then we played at shooting with arrows…and went to cricket again till dark.”
The first public report of a cricket match in North America was in 1751, when the New York Gazette and the Weekly Post Boy carried an account of a match between a London “eleven” (as cricket teams, or “sides,” are called) and one from New York City. The latter side won, though it is almost certain that both teams comprised residents of New York.