USA Cricket - What's next ?

USA Cricket - What's next ?

Future of Cricket in the USA

Can a $1 billion investment make it a top 5 sport?

USA Cricket is back into action after the USA Cricket Association (USACA) got re-inducted as the 105th member of the International Cricket Council (ICC). Being the 93rd Associate Member of ICC, it can receive funding as per the ICC Development Funding Policy and will have the opportunity to stage domestic and international cricket in the USA. Finally, cricket is preparing for a resounding entry into the USA.

Until baseball replaced cricket, it was one of the most popular sports in the USA in 17 and 18 centuries, and there were more than 1,000 cricket clubs across America. Today, cricket is the most popular game in India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Australia, New Zealand, England, and the West Indies. An increasing number of expats from these countries are living in America, which naturally have played a pivotal role in increasing the cricket's popularity in the USA.=

The hope and expectations are very high, especially when the American eves stormed into the qualification rounds to the Australia 2020 and New Zealand 2021. And with this USA Women cricketers have confirmed their birth in the ICC Women's T20 World Cup Qualifier in August-September 2019 and the ICC Women's World Cup Qualifier 2020. 

The USA men have also had a promising delivery in the recently held World Cricket League Division 2 game in Namibia, where they routed Hong Kong for 84 runs. The victory helped the USA Cricket team to get One-Day International (ODI) status, which was first in the cricket history of America.

Presently only 16 countries enjoy ODI status, and this gives a rare opportunity for the USA Cricket Team to strike their caliber at the upcoming ODI World Cup. ODI status is an important milestone for the US; since they are qualified for the Cricket World Cup League 2, they can play a minimum of 36 ODI in the next two and a half years.  It will eventually pave their way to play against the mighty Indians, English, and Aussies.

Launching of American Premier League (APL):

USACA is planning to launch its T20 championship by the year 2021 and announced a request for proposal (RFP) for the same. The US national cricket governing body has relied heavily in the past on the funds provided by the International Cricket Council (ICC) and was able to generate very less non-ICC revenue. But once USACA manages to start its cricket league, the American Premier League would prove to be a significant revenue driver to fund the operations.  Thus, it can reduce its dependence on funds support from the ICC.

Cricket is not a popular sport in the USA as per the new statistics released by the USACA. According to the Chairman of USACA, Paraag Marathe, "Newly released global research shows there are more than 20 million cricket fans in the United States. A well-organized T20 professional tournament is imperative for engaging existing fans and also essential to attract new supporters, which can satiate the vision of USACA for promoting cricket in the USA."

Right now, the only cricket stadium in America, certified by the ICC for T20 and ODI games is the Central Broward Regional Park (CBRP) in Lauderhill, Florida. USACA aims to open more such cricket stadiums shortly. In the RFP submitted, it has mentioned one of the core objectives is to support the ‘sustainable development of cricket and infrastructural facilities in the USA.'

Till now eight T20 tournaments have taken place in the Florida Stadium. And while the crowd for these games was lukewarm, the turnout was highest during the T20 match between WI and India in the year 2016. It could be a challenging task to seduce Americans to watch cricket, as people are mostly fans of football, baseball and basketball. However, the game does have a firm footprint here, due to the presence of considerable Asian expat communities.]

Signing a deal with New Zealand cricket Association:

USACA also signed a deal with the New Zealand Cricket Association in December 2010 to promote cricket in the USA. As per the deed, they formed a new company, namely the Cricket Holding America LLC with significant commercial rights on cricket telecast in the USA. It includes Twenty20 telecast rights, which can generate a lot of viewership and are quite valuable. New Zealand also agreed to play a certain number of matches in the United States as well and promised to make its players available for league matches scheduled in the USA.

According to USACA president Gladstone Dainty, this partnership will benefit USACA in two clear ways. He said, it will generate sustainable revenue, which will be enough for the development of the game and secondly it will help to acquire the experience and cricket knowledge from other full member countries like New Zealand.  These two factors will play a crucial role in developing a strong presence of the game in the USA. 

Investment of ACE in American Premier League:

Parag Marathe calls this as a ‘watershed moment’ in the history of USACA. The association has selected American Cricket Enterprise (ACE) as its strategic partner for the development of American Premier League. ACE will invest $1 billion into the development of the league, which is a substantial amount, considering the teething stage of cricket in the USA. ACE said it would develop major infrastructure and other facilities in more than a dozen locations so that domestic and international cricket games could be played there on a large scale regularly.

Youth cricket introduced to the kids:

Cricket let's play USA (CLPUSA) is a new program for kids across the USA to help them develop an interest in the game and provide an opportunity for them to play the game. It aims to foster a passion for cricket in the hearts and minds of youngsters so that it can create a long-lasting bond with the game. The program will involve children between 6 to 13 years of age and divide them into junior teams and later into leagues.

USA cricket CEO

Ian Higgins, the new CEO of US Cricket Association, was the Chief Operating Officer of ICC since the year 2015. Higgins appointment is crucial for the development of cricket in the USA as he has an in-depth working knowledge of the game in this country and he not only helped in developing and establishing US Cricket, but was also a key ICC member who handled governance matters in the ICC. His years of experience is going to benefit US cricket immensely.

In an interview after his selection, Higgins said that cricket sport in the US has a bright future and it has tremendous scope to grow, and for that, the Cricket Association has devised an ambitious plan for the promotion of the game. He further said that he is looking forward to playing a crucial role in developing and implementing those plans together with the rest of the cricket community and support the game to grow its popularity in the US, which can help the USACA to be a dominant member in world cricket.

Higgins was a former British Rugby player and had worked for ICC in a key position for 10 years before being appointed as its COO. 

Conclusion:

Cricket is not a very popular game in the USA, but it has the potential to win the hearts of youngsters. USA is one of the target countries in the ICC list, and it will do a lot of promotions and development activities in the following years to encourage the game. With a large population of South Asian citizens living in the USA, there is a tremendous viewership scope for the cricket matches in the country. To promote the game amongst the citizens of the USA, a lot of hard work and patience is essential. Considering the trends released by the USACA, cricket has a bright future in the country.

 

 

 


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