A hard-hitter in cricket and life: Ajay Immadi (’22) plays and competes on the US Junior Cricket Team


Ajay Immadi

Ajay Immadi hits a ball for 6 in the selection camp for the USA Under-19s National Team in June 2021. This took place in Morgan Hills, California during the training camp for the top 25 players in the USA and from the 25 they picked 18 players to represent the country and form the USA Under-19 National Cricket Team.

Mandy Wong, AVT EIC

A loud crack reverberates across the field. The split second after the ball ricochets off the smooth, wooden bat, Ajay Immadi (‘22) takes off, breaking into a sprint without looking back. As he slides in the nick of time to the next pitch, safe, his teammates erupt in cheers. 

Immadi is one of 2.5 billion people around the world who play cricket. However, he has accomplished what many only dream of–standing proud as one of just fourteen members of the USA Cricket Men’s Under 19 team.

It all began in November of 2020. Immadi was invited to try out for the national team, and the selection panel chose him and 24 other athletes from the West zone to advance to the next round. 

In April, he faced off against seven other zones across the U.S. in national championship tournaments, and made it into the last round. Last June at a training camp, Immadi finally landed the coveted spot on the national team as one of the top 25 junior male cricket players in the country.

“He’s worked so hard for so long. He deserves it,” said teammate Varun Yedavilli (‘23)

Immadi specializes in the T20, or twenty-over format of the sport (An over is a round where both sides have a chance to hit, like an inning in baseball). An average match takes about four exhausting hours of batting, running, and pitching. 

Since he was seven or eight, Immadi has been playing cricket, so he has ten years of experience in tow. Eyes sparkling with excitement, he recalled how his dad first introduced him to the sport.

“My dad came from India. They play cricket everywhere [there], like on the streets and everything. So he came to the U.S. and [introduced me to it],” said Immadi. “My first experience watching a cricket game was the 2011 Cricket World Cup, and [that time]… I stayed up to watch cricket through the night. Then [my dad] put me in a club soon after the World Cup, and that’s how I got my love for cricket.”

He now practices three times a week for three hours after school and plays two games each weekend with the San Ramon Cricket Association. Immadi trains with his club teammates, two of whom also won spots on the national team, and then joins the national team when they hold training camps. 

“I have my own little group here with my club in San Ramon, called San Ramon Cricket Association. So I used to train over there with a couple of my teammates, and actually two of them [who] go to Dougherty Valley High School also got on the [national] team with me,” said Immadi.

Practices with the national team occur a handful of times a year, with the most recent one being held in Houston, TX, the team’s base, last December.

“It’s really high intensity practice every single day so we got practice and then games as well,” said Immadi. 

However, Immadi prides himself on his dedication and commitment to whatever he does–whether it’s the sport he loves or other aspects of his life, like academics. In tenth and eleventh grade, he increased his academic rigor and strove for high grades. 

In senior year, he submitted his early decision application to SMU (Southern Methodist University), a private school located in a cricket hotspot, Dallas, Texas. And in early December, with great excitement, Immadi received his acceptance letter. 

“I got to know where I’m going, and now I’m relaxing,” said Immadi.

He definitely sees himself going down the cricket path and hopes to witness the sport growing in Dallas. There, a new cricket stadium where the Cricket World Cup will be held is in the works.

Immadi looks forward to taking his game one step further to the next phase of his life. As one of the youngest players on the team, Immadi hopes to learn from the best of the best.

“Three of my teammates go to UT Dallas so that’s fifteen minutes down the road from SMU so I’ll be able to practice with them. They’re all sophomores in college right now,” said Immadi.

Through winning a position on the national team, Immadi opened new windows of opportunity for himself in cricket. Not only does he train with young cricket stars from all across America, but he now also works with expert coaches and analysts from across the globe.

“Our coach currently is Kevin Darlington, he’s from the West Indies and he played for the USA [National team]. We have conditioning coaches from Australia, and analysts from India,” said Immadi.

Elite players also stop by to mentor players. Immadi remembered meeting Ali Khan, a prominent member of the USA Men’s team who regularly goes up against “international players like the gods of cricket.” Khan once came down to an Under 19 training camp and practiced with Immadi and the team. 

“Meeting Ali Khan at training camp was unreal. We’ve always watched him on TV playing against the best of the best and just seeing him in person and getting to speak to him about his experiences playing around the world was a moment I’ll never forget,” said Immadi. “He spoke to us about how to mentally prepare and how to put yourself in positions to succeed on and off the field.”

Cricket is growing. When I was growing up there was really no future, but now there is so keep your head up. You should continue pursuing your dreams because those dreams are going to propel your future–and your future life outside the sport.

— Ajay Immadi

Immadi feels fortunate that his friends and family have been nothing but supportive, and hopes to improve the cricket climate for the future generations. With help from his dad, he started a non-profit organization called Cricket For Cubs (CFC), which has introduced cricket to students in over fifty Bay Area schools.

“I did not really see cricket being played around here, compared to the East Bay where cricket is played in almost every city,” said Immadi. “We hope to introduce cricket as a P.E. sport across all California schools so cricket can be taught to all students.”

Putting up a fight on the field and off, Immadi hopes to advance his athletic abilities and advocate more for cricket. He’s expanding CFC internationally with tournaments every Thanksgiving break, featuring teams from Malaysia, Chicago, Michigan, Seattle, and Florida participating alongside local Bay Area and LA teams. 

Immadi explains the rules of cricket to PUSD Superintendent David Haglund at the inauguration of the newly built turf cricket pitch in Alisal Elementary School, held last May.

CFC also holds the biannual inter-school tournament, where all participating schools form teams to compete against each other. When Immadi watched the tournament’s closing ceremony, he felt closer to making his dreams a reality.

“Many community members and leaders came and supported our organizations. Mayors and city council members of Pleasanton, Dublin, and San Ramon all came to support our organization and vision and it gave us hope that cricket was going to grow with the support of leaders,” said Immadi.

For aspiring cricket players, he advised them to never give up on the sport. 

“Cricket is growing,” Immadi asserted. “When I was growing up there was really no future, but now there is so keep your head up. I know a lot of parents think there’s no future in cricket, but there is now. Cricket is a growing sport in the area, and you should continue pursuing your dreams because those dreams are going to propel your future–and your future life outside the sport.”