Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella holds a Kookaburra cricket ball given to him by GeekWire Editor Todd Bishop on the 2017 GeekWire Summit. (GeekWire Photo / Dan DeLong)

Startup founders and tech large CEOs are placing cash behind cricket groups and leagues, betting that the game will proceed rising in recognition — even within the U.S., the place it has struggled to achieve a foothold.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella is reportedly amongst a bunch backing Major League Cricket, a brand new U.S.-based cricket match run by American Cricket Enterprises set to launch in 2022. Others together with Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen and Paytm CEO Vijay Shekhar Sharma are additionally taking part, in response to the Financial Times.

Nadella is seeking to run a workforce out of Seattle, in response to the Times of India, which alluded to the world-class cricket subject Microsoft is constructing at its revamped headquarters in Redmond, Wash.

Microsoft declined to remark when requested about Nadella’s participation with Major League Cricket.

Nadella has had a ardour for the sport since childhood. Speaking on the 2017 GeekWire Summit, Nadella defined how cricket has taught him management classes he’s carried over to the office. In his guide Hit Refresh, Nadella reveals that he likes to carry a cricket ball throughout convention calls.

Microsoft in 2018 debuted a sensible cricket bat developed in partnership with Indian cricket legend Anil Kumble.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella performs cricket. (Microsoft Photo)

Cricket — a bat-and-ball sport originating in southern England within the sixteenth century — stays an oddity for many Americans, however the ardour runs deep in Britain and lots of of its former colonies, the place the game takes on an virtually religious-like following.

The Indian Premier League, which debuted in 2008, has exploded in recognition with a shorter “Twenty20” match format and spawned comparable new leagues in different nations. This yr’s IPL set data for viewership and elevated promoting income.

There have been makes an attempt at bringing cricket to the U.S. however none have taken off. Pro Cricket launched in 2004 however folded after one yr. The American Premier League tried to launch a Twenty20 group in 2009 however by no means launched.

Cricket is rising in popularity within the Seattle area thanks partly to tech employees who grew up with the game of their dwelling nations. The Seattle Youth Cricket League boasts about 100 children — many the kids of immigrants — enjoying on groups at completely different age ranges from April to September.

“There’s a massive contingent of people at Microsoft and Amazon that love cricket,” stated Rahul Sood, CEO and founding father of Seattle startup Unikrn and a former Microsoft exec.

Wanindu Hasaranga, also referred to as WOWindu, a cricket participant on the Jaffna Stallions. (Jaffna Stallions Photo)

Sood can be getting on the cricket prepare. He simply joined an possession group behind the Jaffna Stallions in a newly-launched Sri Lankan league.

Unikrn CEO Rahul Sood. (Unikrn Photo)

“The third-largest audience for cricket are Sri Lankans. They are dedicated to it,” Sood stated. “They say that second to religion in Sri Lanka is cricket. And they’ve never had their own pro league.”

Sood stated the Stallions have put collectively an possession consortium of senior tech execs within the Seattle space.

The Stallions additionally inked a sponsorship cope with, the Seattle-based nonprofit that goals to assist children learn to code. The organizations will work collectively to assist develop pc science literacy to younger folks in Sri Lanka. can be making its content material obtainable in Sinhalese and Tamil as a part of the deal. The Stallions have a emblem on the entrance of their jerseys.

“We believe that all children everywhere should have access to learn computer science as a foundational subject”, CEO Hadi Partovi stated in an announcement. “ is excited to work with the Jaffna Stallions to drive awareness of this important initiative to parents and teachers everywhere.”

Sood stated there might be potential synergies between the Stallions and Unikrn, which runs an esports betting platform throughout the globe, permitting folks to guess on esports matches very similar to they do with conventional sports activities. The 6-year-old firm is bouncing again after paying a $6.1 million SEC effective in September.

We are so enthusiastic about this unimaginable partnership with @jaffnalpl, a number one cricket workforce within the model new Lanka Premier League (@lplt20official). Check out that emblem 👀 Let’s go Stallions!

— (@codeorg) December 10, 2020