Cricketmania: SF Unicorns hosts free family event in Fremont

Cricket continues to grow in popularity throughout the country, and the Bay Area is no exception. In fact, San Francisco's professional cricket team hosted a "Family Day" for all to enjoy in Fremont.

The San Francisco Unicorns hosted its second family event at Ohlone College from 7 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Saturday. 

Hundreds gathered to watch India beat South Africa in the Twenty20 World Cup. Many, if not all, of the attendees were cheering on India. 

"Cricket is another religion in India. It’s kind of in our blood, everything is flowing and cricket is the one. Everyone is a die-hard fan, so I just love the way it unites the entire country," said Nishit Dalal of Fremont. 

Dalal said he's been a fan since he was a child, watching every game on TV - even if it was on in the middle of the night. 

Cricket fandom has been growing in the U.S. The San Francisco Unicorns were first established as a team in 2023, the same year Major League Cricket was created.

There are currently six teams in the MLC, including the Unicorns, the Los Angeles Knight Riders, the Seattle Orcas, the Texas Super Kings, the Washington (D.C.) Freedom, and MI New York.

The Unicorns are comprised of athletes from all over, with both domestic and international players from Australia, New Zealand, Pakistan, and the West Indies.

The Unicorns recently signed Pat Cummins, the captain of Australia's national team, and he is considered one of the best cricket players worldwide.

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Family Day hosted by the San Francisco Unicorns in 2023.

"We know we’re the new kids in town, we’ve got other great Bay Area teams, like the Warriors and the Giants. And we want to be the next ones, so we need to start building that fan base and building that affinity with our team," said David White, the unicorn's general manager of business operations. 

As far as how they got the name the Unicorns – the idea is very Silicon Valley

"A billion-dollar startup is called a Unicorn, and because of its rarity we call ourselves the Unicorns," SF Unicorns Director of Communications Zayanya de Alwis explained.

The Family Day started with a watch party for the Men's T20 World Cup, located in the West Indies, with South Africa and India facing off.

T20 is a format of cricket, referring to the game's length. T20 is the sport's shortest form, lasting around two hours and 30 minutes per match.

Fans are convinced that the format could do well in the U.S. 

"The old style was five days, but now it’s within three hours. There’s a time factor, so that one team has to score and the other team has to come back and win the game. So every moment is exciting," said India fan Malcolm Catchatoorian of South San Francisco. "This is an exciting time in California. We are going to build some stadiums, we’re going to introduce cricket to the kids who are not Indian, they’re American, and this game will catch on." 

Following the watch party, professional cricket players taught children the basics of cricket, hopefully inspiring the next generation of cricket players.

Players were also available for autographs.

Batting allrounder Corey Anderson also plays for the U.S. national team, alongside Oracle software engineer and bowler Saurabh Netravalkar, who plays for the Washington Freedom.

Another big name who attended the event is Sunil Gavaskar, the former captain of India's national team, winning two World Cups and is considered a "legend" in the world of cricket.

02 May 1986, Lord's Cricket Ground - Indian Tourists - Sunil Gavaskar. (Photo by Mark Leech/Offside via Getty Images)

While there is no U.S. women's team, the team says the interest in the sport for women continues to grow and is established worldwide. 

Extending the sport to female players remains one of the Unicorns' goals. And fans agree. 

"It’s a very unique sport and I’ve been involved with cricket in the US for a long time. And around 12 years ago, I used to go to the parents of girls and I used to tell them cricket is a sport that teaches strategy, leadership, and analytical skills. So why should only boys have access to it?" said Niharika Srivastava.

Srivastava also wrote a book about the basics of cricket to try to inspire young people to get involved with the sport.