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Will T20 World Cup 2024 create a cricket connect in baseball-crazy America?

ICC Men's T20 World Cup 2024: Will Cricket be able to create a buzz is USA? USA to become a potential cricket-hotspot in future?

USA to co-host ICC Men's T20 World Cup 2024 | Walking Wicket (Images_ ©X/Twitter)
USA to co-host ICC Men's T20 World Cup 2024 (Images: ©X/Twitter)

The highly anticipated T20 World Cup 2024 will be co-hosted by the West Indies and the USA, starting June 2. One of the most-anticipated contests, between India and Pakistan, at this year’s ICC Men’s T20 World Cup is scheduled to take place on June 9. The fixture will be hosted by the new Nassau County International Cricket Stadium in Long Island, New York. The marquee clash promises to be a high-stake showdown, reminiscent of their epic encounter at Melbourne during the 2022 T20 World Cup in Australia.

As such, a high-profile clash of an ICC event happening in the USA is sure to be a milestone for USA Cricket. But, will the upcoming mega-event create a big enough impact to win over fans in a baseball-hotspot? 

Historical perspective of Cricket and Baseball 

Both these games originated from farms and pastures. They were brought to England by shepherds from Flanders in North Belgium. Both of these bat-and-ball games are inspired from a common English children’s game called rounders. The game dates back to the Tudor period of England, referenced in 1744 in the children’s book, ‘A Little Pretty Pocket-Book’. 

Cricket came from the southeast of England while Baseball was played in western England. Baseball started as a children’s game while Cricket was more often played by the adults. The very first written reference to cricket was during the late 16th century, while the first game of Baseball wasn’t played until 1876. 

Both games came to America with English immigrants. By the 1840s, Cricket had a following along the East Coast, particularly in Philadelphia and New York. During the American Civil War in 1861, Cricket was more popular. Afterwards, Baseball became more widespread with Cricket being restricted to smaller pockets in Philadelphia.

Popularity of the two games: Eastern hemisphere vs Western hemisphere 

The game of baseball always remains in headlines and is a festive celebration in the United States. However, America’s favourite pastime, baseball, rarely made waves. Even today, it remains a niche sport in most major markets outside North America. Baseball is the 7th most followed sport with 500 million followers, mostly in USA, Japan, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Canada, Cuba, Venezuela, South Korea etc.

With 2.5 billion followers, cricket is the second-most popular sport behind soccer/football (3.5 billion followers). It has a substantial geographical reach, with immense popularity in Australia, Bangladesh, England, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka, the West Indies, Zimbabwe, Afghanistan, the Netherlands, Kenya and the United Arab Emirates, to name a few.

Synergy of the West and East 

The growth of cricket in the global paradigm shows a meteoric surge that includes inclusion of the game in the 2028 Summer Olympics, the US hosting the 2024 ICC Men’s T20 World Cup and the debut of Major League Cricket in America. Secondary developments also include heightened investor interest in team deals, and the completion of lucrative media rights contracts.  

More than 70,000 spectators marked season one of MLC, bringing in $2.8 million in ticket-sale revenue which is an astounding amount for any match played on US soil. Also renowned cricketers like Keiron Pollard, Quinton de Kock, Andre Russell, Sunil Narine, Corey Anderson, Nicolas Pooran, Heinrich Klaasen and Devon Conway made their appearance in Major League Cricket, heralding the floodgates towards acceptance of the game in the US. 

Sports entrepreneur and investor Joe Pompliano added that India is the biggest market for cricket with close to 550 million people engaging with the sport annually. To utmost surprise, there are no other full member nations in the top five apart from India. The data says China is the second-biggest market for cricket with 408 million people showing interest in cricket annually while the USA is third on the list with 63 million.

Broadcasting Revenue: Cricket vis a vis Baseball 

If one analyses the per-game cost (including both TV and digital) of the big sporting leagues, the National Football League (NFL) stands first where per game costs a broadcaster about $17 million. This is the highest for any sports league in the world at the moment. 

The IPL is now second with $16 million in the 2023-27 cycle, showing a surge in costs per year. IPL is followed by the English Premier League and the Major League Baseball’s figure ($11 million). IPL’s rise is meteoric because it is only a 16-year-old sporting event. IPL can be termed a baby in comparison to the National Football League (NFL) and Major League Baseball (MLB), the oldest major professional sports league in the world. 

The ICC Men’s T20 Cricket World Cup 2024 is likely to bring in about ₹1,600–1,800 crore in advertising revenue for Disney Star as they have called off the subscription-based model. Similar to the previous tournament in Australia two years ago, revenue figures will more or less stay unchanged from the 2022 season despite increase in number of matches and teams. This is largely due to few early morning matches for India, fetching an unrequited viewership.

USA: A potential Cricket-hotspot? 

America is often described as a melting pot of cultures, where people from all over the world come together to create a diverse and vibrant society. This diversity is reflected in the country’s food, music, sports, art and traditions, making it a rich tapestry of cultural exchange and innovation. As such, 9 teams out of 20, will have the chance to leave their mark on the said tapestry.  

They will be playing at the New York venue, with the most eagerly awaited contest being the IND vs PAK encounter. Hosts USA, neighbours Canada, Ireland, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Netherlands and Bangladesh are the other teams that will play here in New York. 

The ICC's Event Director Chris Tetley revealed that research show there are 30 million cricket fans in the United States, making it the third largest broadcast market.  Former Australia captain Ricky Ponting believes that the marquee IND vs PAK match has the potential to flare up a surge in cricket’s popularity in the United States and Cricket will soon become a major phenomenon in US. 

He was quoted by ICC as saying, “I have seen it firsthand here in Australia, in Melbourne last time around, where there were 95,000 people in the stadium and another 50,000 people outside the stadium. You can imagine what it is going to be like in New York. So, really exciting times for the world game.” 

Ponting accentuated the importance of hosting international fixtures and the emergence of franchise cricket leagues like Major League Cricket (MLC) in US. It that has helped in attracting global talent and fostering local interest in the sport, catalysing Cricket’s expansion.

1 comentário

Padma Lochan
Padma Lochan
31 de mai.

The T20 World Cup can be a significant step for cricket in America. Its success will create a lasting connection depends on how well the sport is presented, capitalizing on similarities to baseball and making it exciting for viewers.

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