Cricket-T20 World Cup a boost to sport’s American Dream

Cricket competes for the hearts and wallets of America. PHOTO: Reuters

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Cricket begins a campaign for the hearts and wallets of American fans this week, as the T20 World Cup kicks off on Saturday in Dallas, bringing the best of the sport to less familiar territory.

The United States play Canada in the first match of the tournament co-hosted by the West Indies, while a temporary stadium in Nassau County, New York, hosts its first of eight fixtures on Monday. Lauderhill, Florida, will host four matches.

Cricket boasts billion fans around the globe but few adherents in the lucrative North American market, where fans are more accustomed to watching New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge picking up a bat than Rohit Sharma or Jos Buttler.

“This is the start of a journey,” International Cricket Council (ICC) CEO Geoff Allardice told Reuters. “The awareness that we’re bringing in more elite cricket to the USA is something that’s been a strategic priority for us.”

The journey started with Major League Cricket, which began play in the United States last year, and culminates with the 2028 Los Angeles Games, where cricket will be reintroduced to the Olympic programme for the first time since 1900.

“In the lead up to the Los Angeles Olympics, I think we’ll be continuing to try and raise the profile of cricket, not just for the established cricket fans in the USA but for new fans,” said Allardice.

The tournament, which counts Jamaican track hero Usain Bolt as an ambassador, is a dream come true for U.S. immigrants, who comprise much of the sport’s U.S. fan base and are more used to watching the action on television than in their own backyard.

“I mean, (India have) got some of the biggest names in world sport as part of their team,” said Allardice. “And to be able to get close to them and see them in action, I think it’s an opportunity that’s something that comes along (not) very often for cricket fans in the USA.”

The ICC T20 World Cup runs from June 1-29.



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