Corporate support of cricket was fairly common in U.S. cricket's golden era towards the end of the 19th century. The Pullman Cricket Club was started in Chicago for the employees of Pullman Railcar, named after George Mortimer Pullman, the palacecar millionnaire. The malted milk drink company, Horlick's had started its own club in the 1880s and Metropolitan Life had its own club in New York in the 1890s.
By Venu Palaparthi
Microsoft has made a new cricket field an integral part of its 2.5 million square foot transformation of its headquarters in Redmond, Washington. Plans for the field first came to light in an article titled "The workspace of the future" that appeared on Microsoft's website
The plan was later confirmed by Greg Shaw, Senior Director, Office of the CEO, in a LinkedIn post. Shaw wrote: "Cricket players already have been coming for years, negotiating their way onto softball diamonds and soccer fields to play their sport, but in a few years they will have their own field of dreams -- an oval, wicket and stumps that reflect the growing influence of employees from the cricket-mad nations of India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Australia, Bangladesh, West Indies, South Africa and England."
"This may be the first proper, recreational cricket ground ever designed and built as part of a major corporate or community project in the United States," Shaw noted in his post.
In a way, Shaw is right. No company in the modern era has treated cricket as a sport worth supporting on this scale. However, corporate support of cricket was fairly common in cricket's golden era towards the end of the 19th century. The Pullman Cricket Club was started in Chicago for the employees of Pullman Railcar, named after George Mortimer Pullman, the palacecar millionnaire. In 1886, English born Horlick brothers migrated to America and created the immensely successful Horlick's, the malted milk drink. By 1890, the brothers started the Horlick's Cricket Club. In New York, the predecessor of MetLife had a very active cricket team, the Metropolitan Life Insurance AA, in 1890s. As recently as 2000, Sarnoff, based in Princeton, New Jersey, had a cricket ground at its sprawling headquarters. The ground disappeared following the company's acquisition by the Stanford Research Institute (SRI International).
According to Shaw's LinkedIn post, Bill Lee, the manager of the headquarters transformation project happened to stop by Microsoft's Building 121 near one of the campus soccer fields one Saturday last year. He ran into a team of cricketers in uniforms who had just finished playing a match. "Bill used the opportunity to ask them what they wanted to see in the new campus design. Without hesitation they said that a proper cricket ground would become the home of their colleagues and families," Shaw wrote.
Microsoft is no stranger to cricket. It already has a top-notch cricket field at its Hyderabad Development Office (pictured above) and has hosted matches and tournaments for its employees there since 2005. Microsoft's LinkedIn subsidiary has an indoor facility in its Bangalore office. According to Shaw, Michael Ford, the general manager in charge of Microsoft's new campus project, tried his hand at cricket during a visit to LinkedIn's campus in Bangalore, India. "I'm ready to go pro," Ford told Shaw.
It helps to have a CEO who is a cricket fanatic. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, an off-spinner, recounts the three principles from his “all-too brief cricketing past” that he uses today as the CEO. First, compete with passion, nurturing respect for the competitor without being awed. Second, the team comes first. Third, the cental importance of leadership.
"No matter where I am, this beautiful game is always in the back of my mind. The joy, the memories, the drama, the complexities, and the ups and downs - the infinite possibilities," Nadella writes in the second chapter of his book 'Hit Refresh.'
The cricket space that is currently envisioned for the Redmond office to be about 250-feet by over 320-feet, which could accommodate perhaps a 50 yard boundary.
Shaw wrote that there is also room to expand adding, "a well-struck ball -- a six as they call it in cricket -- could crash into Lake Bill, named for founder Bill Gates." Somehow, that is still better than what cricketers would have to go through if they whack the ball off their rooftop space at Twitter Headquarters in San Francisco (pictured left).
Picture Credits: Microsoft and Twitter corporte websites