Deep Joshi’s love for the sport of cricket has never wavered as he seeks to make his mark playing professionally in the United States.
Cricket involves two teams that will bat and field. The sport is played on a cricket pitch and there are 11 players for each team.
While batting players try to hit a cricket ball to score runs, the opposing team bowls (when a player throws a cricket ball toward the wicket stumps behind the batsman) and fields the ball on the pitch to limit the team’s scoring. The goal for each team is to score as many runs as possible before the game is over.
One way the game concludes is when one team dismisses or retires 10 batsmen.
Joshi, who resides in East Windsor, plays professionally in Minor League Cricket (MiLC), which was launched nationwide for its inaugural season during the summer of 2021.
MiLC has 27 teams in four divisions – Southern, Eastern, Central and Western. The highest domestic competition for the sport at the moment in the United States is MiLC competition.
At this time, there is not a Major League Cricket franchise league in the United States, but that is expected to change as there are plans to launch a Major League Cricket T20 franchise league by 2023. The league would initially have six teams in major cities across the country.
According to MLC, that would be the highest level domestic competition for the sport to ever be played in the country.
As a professional, Joshi played for the New Jersey Somerset Cavaliers in MiLC on a one-year contract. He was one of the team’s pre-draft priority picks.
During the season in seven matches, Joshi had 101 runs for his batting performance and his bowling stats were 18 balls, 17 runs and one wicket.
With the season over, Joshi is continuing to pursue his dream of reaching the heights of professional cricket in America as the game grows in the country.
His dream includes playing for the U.S. National Cricket team. He previously earned a spot on the Under 19 (U19) national team to represent the United States at the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifiers in 2019.
“Since I just graduated from the U19 national team, it is my goal to find a spot in the final 14 squad in the near future,” Joshi said. “Within a couple of years, by the time the major league rolls around in 2023, by age 21 or 22, I want to see myself on the men’s national team.”
Joshi has established his primary playing role as an all-rounder. That was his primary role on the U19 national team and with the Somerset Cavaliers. An all-rounder is a player who performs well at bowling and batting.
“The best part that I really love about the game is hitting the ball. It has been an ability I have been pursuing,” Joshi said. “I love seeing the ball sail and the crowd being able to cheer you on. I am also a pace bowler (delivers the cricket ball at a fast speed). I love pitching fast and getting the batters on their back foot.”
While playing cricket professionally, Joshi, 20, is in his final semester at Mercer County Community College in West Windsor. He will be heading to Rutgers University, New Brunswick, as a healthcare administration major and holds an internship at Penn Medicine Princeton Health.
Growing up in East Windsor, Joshi began playing cricket when India won the 2011 Cricket World Cup. He was introduced to the sport by his father, Jignesh Joshi, who remains a fan of the sport.
“My father did not get the opportunity to play cricket because the opportunities he had in India were not that great, and he wanted me to get into the game,” Joshi said. “So at the age of 10, he got me into watching the 2011 Cricket World Cup and that is where I really gained interest in the game.”
Joshi practiced with his father and began working on his skills at CricMax Academy in Old Bridge. He played in his first tournament with CricMax when he was 11.
CricMax Coach Ashok Patel helped teach Joshi how to hold a bat when he started practicing at CricMax.
“Deep is an outstanding competitor, batsman and a hard-working guy. I was definitely able to see his ability to be an all-rounder,” Patel said of the young player. “He improved his bowling a lot and worked on his pace and swing, too.”
Joshi played cricket during his years at Hightstown High School and while in college. He secured a spot on the U19 national team, receiving the news a few days before his high school graduation. Soon after competing with the U19 national team, Joshi started his professional career with the Somerset Cavaliers.
“I think he can improve his running, hitting the ball and shot selection,” Patel said. “He will get more time in the minor league system because he is a very good player, and he has been developing and working hard. So if he does continue with the Somerset Cavaliers or is with another team he will get more opportunities.”
Joshi encountered a setback in 2016 when he did not make the U19 national team shortlist.
“I just wasn’t prepared enough mentally or physically. A lot of it was because of my age, because I was 14 and trying out for the U19 team,” Joshi said. “I just told myself to keep improving and eventually I was able to get my hands on that USA jersey. To represent your country is a totally different feeling. When I finally made the team it was the best moment of my life at the time.”
Cricket is not currently included in the Olympics, but that is not stopping the International Cricket Council’s attempt to have the sport return to Olympic competition for the 2028 Los Angeles Games, according to the ICC.
As his professional cricket journey continues, Joshi’s goals remain the same.
“My short-term goals are to make the U.S. men’s national team and the major leagues. In the future, I would like to play in international leagues globally,” he said. “I also want to help grow awareness of the game and inspire others to play this sport. I coach kids at CricMax Academy as one way to do that.”