Cricket mania: Massive Bay Area contingency watches T20 World Cup

Hemant Buch, 60, of Cupertino estimates he might have been one of up to 5,000 cricket lovers from the Bay Area who flew east to watch the T20 Cricket World Cup, where his native India beat Pakistan.

He said nearly every major Silicon Valley company he knows bought suites so that their employees could watch Sunday's match in Westbury, NY, sharing a photo of Microsoft CEO Saya Nadela in the stands to prove his point.

"I personally know 200 people who came," Buch told KTVU on Monday. "It was an electrifying atmosphere."

And he wasn't just thrilled that India beat Pakistan by six runs on Sunday.  Final score: 119-113.

He was thrilled because to him, it seems like cricket is on the cusp of becoming a household world, aided last week when Team USA beat Pakistan in what is considered the largest upset in sports history.

"Cricket is now in the mainstream," Buch said on his way back home after the game, where he sat among a sea of 34,000 fans rooting for either India or Pakistan.

One piece of that mainstream evidence is that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer attended the match – and Buch was able to grab a selfie with the New York Democrat ahead of the match.

"He came to the event," Buch said, "and said he wanted to learn more."

He took some photos with Schumer; one shows him walking side-by-side with him outside the stadium.

Hemant Buch of Cupertino (second from right) walks with NY Sen. Chuck Schumer at the T20 World Cup in New York when India beat Pakistan. June 9, 2024

Buch wore a shirt bearing the logo of his California Cricket Academy, which he founded more than two decades ago for young cricket players in the Bay Area.

He now runs that academy full-time.

While cricket is growing in popularity in the United States, its numbers – and therefore clout – pale in comparison to mainstream American activities, like soccer and football.

But Buch is banking on the fact that T20 World Cup, held every two years featuring 20 nations, will bring more attention to a game that is wildly popular in India, Pakistan, England, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.

This year, for the first time, the event is being held in the United States and several Caribbean nations. The U.S. matches are also being held in Dallas and Lauderhill, Fla., but New York was designated for the marquee matchup.

Buch is also heartened that California Assemblyman Ash Kalra (D-San Jose) last week introduced a resolution to recognize the historic importance of cricket, celebrate its return to the 2028 Olympics and  urge the California Interscholatic Federation to officially recognize the game of cricket in high school.

Buch said this recognition is important because CIF governs what's accepted as a legitimate sport, which can lead to tangible benefits.

"So when our kids are putting so many hours into any sport, if it is recognized, then they get awards for it, points for it," Buch said. "They can use it as an alternative to a PE class. Plus, they can get scholarships to college.  A lot of students want to open a cricket club, but schools do not recognize because they are saying it's not part of the common curriculum."

Buch said he's worked with Kalra on this resolution for years, and he's excited to "see where it goes." 

Microsoft CEO Satya Nedella (right) attends the T20 World Cup in New York on June 9, 2024. Photo: Hemant Buch


This story was reported in Oakland, Calif. 

Lisa Fernandez is a reporter for KTVU. Email Lisa at or call her at 510-874-0139. Or follow her on Twitter @ljfernandez