Who is Jomboy, the American baseball pundit making cricket fun for newbies?

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New Jersey, United States – On a acold March time successful Jersey City, nan storage looks unremarkable from nan outside. Surrounded by a mesh obstruction nether a noisy flyover bridge, location is small of statement successful nan bleakly business area isolated from nan cannabis shop adjacent door. But wrong is nan world of a sports-loving child’s fantasies: a cavernous room transformed into a section of play.

On nan paper is Ball successful Play, a meld of cricket and baseball, wherever players deterioration bucket hats and bubblegum-coloured kits. The walls are adorned pinch squad banners base preposterous names: The Woogas, Love Yas, McFlurry Power and Forgotten Rotten.

It is present that 35-year-old Jimmy O’Brien, aka Jomboy, is enjoying nan realisation of his dream.

The laminitis of Jomboy Media has overseen nan booming description of his empire from a two-man podcast to an organisation employing much than 60 group successful an agency and workplace analyzable adjacent nan Empire State Building successful New York City and nan New Jersey warehouse.

Jomboy’s occurrence has been built connected podcasts and videos analysing shot and different American sports but, almost by chance, O’Brien discovered a precocious emotion for cricket. He could not perchance person imagined it starring him to 1 of cricket’s astir coveted broadcasting roles.

O’Brien, an American who has ne'er played cricket, will subordinate a commentary squad of nan game’s erstwhile prima players and elite broadcasters astatine nan ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2024.

 Jomboy Media]Jimmy O’Brien ‘bowling’ for Team Baggage successful Ball successful Play, a tourney for a mash-up athletics held successful a New Jersey storage successful March 2024 [Courtesy: Jomboy Media]

An accidental cricket fan

O’Brien first encountered cricket arsenic a six-year-old successful Australia.

His family spent 2 years surviving successful nan Sydney suburb of Lindfield, and O’Brien has vague memories of schoolyard games during recess astatine nan Holy Family Primary School.

“I didn’t really play it erstwhile we lived there, conscionable successful nan schoolyard,” O’Brien tellsJazeera.

“My friend played truthful I retrieve going to his believe each now and then. But I ne'er saw a match.

“I watched much rugby and Aussie rules connected TV. But my dada had a institution outing wherever they played cricket and I was pinch each nan different kids, playing. I didn’t cognize nan rules. I knew that you tally backmost and distant to people runs.”

Back successful nan US, O’Brien pursued a profession successful sports media, initially arsenic a videographer.

In 2017, he started a podcast connected his beloved New York Yankees arsenic a hobby pinch his champion friend Jake Storiale.

“I was conscionable like, I’m going to build a Twitter relationship and make contented astir nan Yankees because I person nary 1 to talk astir them pinch and I’m bored. And past they had a bully play retired of nowhere. They went to nan playoffs truthful our podcasts grew. We thought it was big. Maybe 1,000 group listened.

“But it was growing. I sewage a mini finance of 25 expansive to discontinue and effort to do it full-time for a year. Jake sewage fired and was searching for a caller occupation and I was like, wanna divided half of this thing pinch me?”

O’Brien mixed an uncanny talent for lip-reading pinch forensic video investigation to analyse everything from strategy to alleged cheating successful Major League Baseball. In 2019 respective videos went viral and Jomboy’s pursuing skyrocketed.

 Jomboy Media]Jimmy O’Brien and Jake Storiale, co-founders of Jomboy Media [Courtesy: Jomboy Media]

‘Not a cricket snob yet’

A operation of fatherhood and nan COVID-19 pandemic reconnected O’Brien to cricket. His son, James, was calved successful November 2021, during nan Men’s T20 World Cup successful nan United Arab Emirates.

O’Brien spent nan adjacent 5 days shuttling betwixt nan infirmary and a edifice room which did not person entree to nan net aliases cablegram television.

“I had watched [Australian documentary] The Test connected Amazon because I really for illustration Australian media and I don’t want to hide astir that portion of my life. So I watched The Test, play one, and that benignant of sewage it backmost connected nan brain.

“When I was successful nan hospital, nan T20 World Cup was nan only point live. And past I watched a tonne [of cricket] erstwhile I was connected paternity leave.”

The T20 franchise leagues successful New Zealand and Australia would aerial during late-night hours connected nan US East Coast, providing plentifulness of cricket viewing opportunities to nan caller dad.

“I for illustration nan intricacies of strategy. I besides for illustration bat-to-ball sports. But, dissimilar baseball, cricket is simply a bully watch moreover pinch little diversion players. Baseball is beautiful sadistic to watch erstwhile it’s amateurs but cricket, I could put connected immoderate convention and I could bask nan action. But that mightiness beryllium conscionable because I’m not a snob yet.”

INTERACTIVE - Men's World Cup-stadiums-venues-map-2023 transcript 2-1716469524(Al Jazeera)

‘Doing wonders for nan athletics successful nan US’

Perhaps it is his deficiency of cricket snobbery that has endeared him to different novices of nan crippled for illustration himself.

In a breakdown of West Indies’ stunning Test triumph complete Australia successful January, O’Brien distilled nan humanities discourse and significance; Steve Smith’s strategy successful trying to shepherd Australia location pinch tail-ender Josh Hazlewood and Shamar Joseph’s strategies into a 10-minute masterclass of preamble to Test cricket.

His mentation of why Smith must support nan onslaught and protect Hazlewood is comically honest: “[Hazlewood is] a very bully bowler. He does not bat well.”

There’s nary shortage of shot references, either.

When Smith plays a precocious cut, O’Brien points retired that it’s not “an excuse-me-foul-ball” arsenic successful baseball, but a well-executed cricket shot.

And erstwhile Joseph yet gets Hazlewood by knocking nan apical of his off-stump – O’Brien is not judge if nan correct terminology is “top of off” aliases “off of top” – he gives it a shot equivalent: “He dotted nan corner. You’d opportunity precocious and outside, dot, and that’s precisely what he did.”

In different clip of cricket “breakdown” commentary that went viral, O’Brien explains nan intricacies of a bowler mounting up a batsman for a wicket. He walks nan instrumentality done cricket position specified arsenic inswinger, outswinger and wobble seam successful an uncomplicated manner.

Some sports fans person credited “Jomboy” pinch getting them person to knowing nan crippled than they had ever been, while others consciousness he is “doing wonders” for nan athletics successful nan US.

Jomboy is 1 of nan 🐐 sports contented creators successful nan world. He's still comparatively caller to cricket yet knocking them for six pinch his coverage. Doing wonders for nan athletics successful nan US https://t.co/45ZC6xQILK

— Matt Nicholls (@matt__nicholls) March 4, 2024

From shot podcast to cricket broadcast

The ICC hopes O’Brien will thief them ace nan US marketplace by breaking down barriers erstwhile he joins their broadcast squad during nan matches held successful New York.

“We are delighted that Jomboy will beryllium joining nan ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2024 commentator’s panel,” ICC TV Executive Producer Ajesh Ramachandran toldJazeera.

“With his unsocial blend of insightful study and entertaining storytelling, Jomboy will bring a caller and breathtaking position to cricket, making it much accessible and enjoyable for our increasing US audience. His passion for nan crippled and expertise to link pinch fans will undoubtedly heighten nan World Cup acquisition for viewers.”

For O’Brien, it is simply a chance to return his analytical skills from nan podcast to broadcast and adhd nan position of “someone that did not turn up pinch nan game”.

“I’m thrilled to get nan opportunity. I’m besides truthful tense because it’s thing I haven’t done earlier and I cognize really overmuch nan viewers emotion nan product.”

O’Brien believes cricket has nan imaginable to make inroads successful nan coveted US market, but it will return time.

“If cricket was to get to nan level successful nan US that shot has gone to Australia I deliberation that would beryllium decently successful. I deliberation it takes 20 years for a athletics to really get into nan populace. You request to get nan younker playing it.”

Back astatine nan storage successful March, ex-professional baseballers “bowl” to existent master cricketers wielding a shot bat flattened retired connected 1 side, different hybrid. The teams for Ball successful Play see societal media contented creators, labor and amateurs pinch a mean swing. There are “wickets” alternatively of “outs”, fours and sixes, and batters who tally betwixt nan wickets. It is nan matrimony of O’Brien’s 2 sporting loves.

Two players, Aaron Jones and Shayan Jahangir, person been selected successful nan USA squad for nan World Cup. Jahangir is connected O’Brien’s team, Team Baggage. Neither of them realise O’Brien could soon beryllium commentating connected them to a worldwide assemblage of hundreds of millions erstwhile nan T20 World Cup yet lands successful nan US.

Jimmy O'Brien and Shayan Jahangir JomboyTeam Baggage teammates Jimmy O’Brien (front, right) and Shayan Jahangir (front, left) will characteristic astatine nan ICC T20 World Cup, 1 arsenic a commentator and nan different arsenic a personnel of nan USA squad [Courtesy: Jomboy Media]

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