The rise of USA cricket in the last 20 years

The USA fans were out in numbers to support their team ICC/Getty Images

In 2010, USA were playing in Division 5 of the World Cricket League (WCL). Fast forward to 2024, and they have been the biggest surprise of the T20 World Cup 2024. As co-hosts, they shocked Pakistan in the group phase and made history by making the Super Eight, where they will compete with South Africa, England and fellow hosts West Indies for a spot in the semi-finals. Here's a brief history of the ups and downs of USA cricket over the last 20 years:

USA's first entry into top-tier cricket was the 2004 Champions Trophy, for which they qualified by winning the ICC Six Nations Challenge comprising teams like Scotland, Namibia, Netherlands, UAE and Canada. The backbone of their Six Nations success was former West Indies batter Clayton Lambert, who top-scored in the event.

The Central Broward Stadium in Lauderhill, Florida, was constructed. In March of that year, the ICC suspended USA Cricket Association till early 2008 after there were disputes within the board over its constitution.

USA took part in the T20 World Cup Qualifier . They beat Scotland in the opening game but were eliminated after losses to Afghanistan and Ireland.

It was also the year that USA hosted their first T20Is, a T20 series oftwo-matches between Sri Lanka and New Zealand which ended in a 1-1 draw.

2012 -2015
USA did not play the T20 World Cups in 2012, 2014 and 2016, failing to clear the Qualifiers for each edition.

ICC suspended USACA again after expressing "significant concerns about the governance, finance, reputation and cricketing activities of USACA". The ICC also cut off funding.

Later that year, Cricket All Stars came to the USA, with Sachin Tendulkar's Masters going up against Shane Warne's Warriors in a three-match series. The matches were held on baseball grounds across New York, Houston and Los Angeles.

It was also the year that USA players got picked in the Caribbean Premier League for the first time. Steven Taylor made it to the Barbados Tridents squad.

ICC expelled USACA again and the team was temporarily overseen by ICC Americas. Later in the year, USACA was replaced by USA Cricket, a new governing body for the game in the country.

After beating Singapore in the final of the 2018 ICC World Cricket League Division Three, USA were promoted to the Division Two for the first time.

ICC lifted the ban on USA and granted them Associate status in January. In April, they played their first ODI in 15 years, a third-place playoff game against Papua New Guinea in Division 2 of ICC's World Cricket League. In the same tournament, former West Indies batter Xavier Marshall's century helped USA secure ODI status for the first time. They finished third on the WCL Division 2 points table. Soon after, USA's first-ever T20I against UAE was washed out. Their first T20I win came against Cayman Islands in August the same year.

Another significant project was initiated in 2019 as talks of a new franchise tournament (Major League Cricket) began. Sameer Mehta, co-founder of American Cricket Enterprise (ACE) won the rights to own and operate the league in USA. The tournament was initially slated to begin in 2021 but was pushed to 2023 due to COVID-19.

ACE signed a 15-year lease to acquire AirHogs Stadium, a 6000-seat facility for minor league baseball and soccer, in the Dallas suburb of Grand Prairie, Texas. USA cricket stepped up foreign recruitment to live up to ODI status, and over time got on board Corey Anderson from New Zealand, and Rusty Theron and Dane Piedt from South Africa, among others.

USA achieved a historic T20I win over Ireland - their first against a Full Member nation.

Major League Cricket (MLC) was finally launched with MI New York, the franchise owned by Mukesh Ambani, who also owns Mumbai Indians in IPL, winning the inaugural edition by beating Seattle Orcas, owned by Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, in the final. Nadella, Ross Perot Jr (billionaire businessman and former owner of Dallas Mavericks), and owners of four IPL teams (MI, Kolkata Knight Riders, Chennai Super Kings and Delhi Capitals) were among the investors committing to USD 120 million to MLC.

In the build-up to the T20 World Cup, USA beat Bangladesh 2-1 in a three-match series in Dallas - their first series win against a Full Member nation.

They then beat arch rivals Canada in the opening game of the T20 World Cup, stunned Pakistan in a Super Over, and qualified for the Super Eight stage of the tournament.