Cricket was played by British colonists in North America by the start of the 18th century.Archived references to cricket played in America date from 1709. A New York newspaper from 1739 contains an advertisement for cricket players and the first documented competition occurred in 1751 in Manhattan.According to William Byrd II’s diary, cricket was played on the slave plantations of Virginia, including on his Westover estate among neighbors and slaves.By 1793, Dartmouth College students were playing cricket on the Green.
Philadelphia was the crucible of North American cricket and remains so today. Haverford College formed a cricket team in 1833, generally accepted as the first cricket club exclusively for Americans. Haverford and the University of Pennsylvania formed a strong rivalry, with the first match played in 1864, believed to be the third-oldest intercollegiate sporting contest in America, after the 1852 Harvard-Yale crew and 1859 Amherst-Williams baseball matches. An Intercollegiate Cricket Association existed from 1881–1924.
The eleven-person team cricket familiar with Americans today took root most effectively at the St. George’s Cricket Club, founded in 1838. Clubs from the United States (St. George’s CC) and Canada participated in one of the first international cricket matches on record in 1844 in Bloomingdale Park in Manhattan. Cricket received a significant amount of media coverage at the time. In the mid-19th century, the sport was played in approximately 125 cities in 22 states. Roughly 500 officially established clubs existed and it is probable that in 1860 there were 10,000 boys and men in America who had actively played the sport for at least a season.
St. George’s CC employed Sheffield native Samuel Wright as its professional cricket playing groundsman. Wright’s two sons, Harry and George, played for the United States XXII against the All England XI in 1859 in New York and Philadelphia. Both Wright brothers became renowned in baseball circles after they played for the Cincinnati Red Stockings, America’s first professional baseball team. English cricket teams toured American regularly. Richard Daft’s England side visited in 1869, when they played in New York and Philadelphia. Then with the spread of cricket to Boston, Lord Hawke’s England XI played George Wright’s New England Cricket XI at the Longwood Country Club in Boston. On the same tour in 1891 Lord Hawke’s XI defeated a Germantown CC XI in Philadelphia, which included George Patterson, regarded as America’s best batsman, with several centuries to his credit. George Patterson — referred to as America’s W.G. Grace — was an American-born cricketer and lawyer by profession, described as brilliant under pressure when facing first-class English sides.
In 2004 Pro Cricket was organized as a professional Twenty20 format league with eight teams in two divisions. However, the league closed at the end of its first season in 2004. The Pro Cricket league was independent of the USACA and not recognized or sanctioned by it. Among post-secondary institutions, in recent years Haverford College is one of the few to field a cricket team at the varsity level.