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ICC Twenty20 World Cup a boost to sport’s American Dream

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A general view shows the Nassau county International Cricket Stadium for the upcoming ICC Men’s T20 World Cup in New York.
| Photo Credit: AFP

Cricket begins a campaign for the hearts and wallets of American fans this week, as the T20 World Cup kicks off on June 1 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 June 3. 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.”

This aerial photo shows the Nassau County International Cricket Stadium under construction in Eisenhower Park in East Meadow, New York

This aerial photo shows the Nassau County International Cricket Stadium under construction in Eisenhower Park in East Meadow, New York
| Photo Credit:
AFP

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.

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“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.

ICC ‘excited’ as cricket’s newest stadium launched in New York

The newly-built Nassau County International Cricket Stadium, near New York, was launched on Wednesday with the sport’s world body “excited” to conquer new territories through the T20 World Cup in June.

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The 34,000-capacity stadium, with infrastructure from the Las Vegas Formula 1 circuit and drop-in pitches prepared in Florida, will host the hotly-anticipated India-Pakistan clash on June 9, among its eight scheduled World Cup games.

Construction workers build the Nassau county International Cricket Stadium for the upcoming ICC Men’s T20 World Cup in Eisenhower Park in East Meadow in New York. The 34,000-capacity stadium, with infrastructure from the Las Vegas Formula 1 circuit and drop-in pitches prepared in Florida, will host the hotly-anticipated India-Pakistan clash on June 9, among its eight scheduled World Cup games.

Construction workers build the Nassau county International Cricket Stadium for the upcoming ICC Men’s T20 World Cup in Eisenhower Park in East Meadow in New York. The 34,000-capacity stadium, with infrastructure from the Las Vegas Formula 1 circuit and drop-in pitches prepared in Florida, will host the hotly-anticipated India-Pakistan clash on June 9, among its eight scheduled World Cup games.
| Photo Credit:
AFP

The showpiece 20-over event will be co-hosted by the West Indies and the United States starting June 1 with New York, Florida and Dallas as venues.

The International Cricket Council (ICC) remains happy with the focus on the India-Pakistan clash and the Nassau project as part of bringing the game to the US.

“Yeah, absolutely! We can run that game anywhere and the interest in the fixture would be immense,” Chris Tetley, the ICC’s head of events, told reporters in a media roundtable.

“The news stories that we have seen and the media coverage in the US itself as well as amongst the cricket media around the world. I have not seen that before around an ICC event.”

Tetley added: “We are really excited to bring the T20 World Cup cricket to the US and the opportunity that it presents to the sport and from what I can see there is an audience really waiting for us to come.”

T20 Cricket will also feature as one of five new sports at the Los Angeles Olympics in 2028.

A general view shows a media center the Nassau county International Cricket Stadium for the upcoming ICC Men’s T20 World Cup in Eisenhower Park in New York

A general view shows a media center the Nassau county International Cricket Stadium for the upcoming ICC Men’s T20 World Cup in Eisenhower Park in New York
| Photo Credit:
AFP

Making a cricket stadium in Nassau remained a huge challenge for the ICC, who got in Adelaide Oval curator Damian Hough for the job.

Hough created the first drop-in pitch in Adelaide in 2013 and the latest strips at the Nassau County ground promise good cricket and balance between bat and ball.

“People shouldn’t be concerned about drop-in pitches,” said Hough.

“They are proven around the world, definitely in Australia. Some of the best cricket is played on drop-in pitches and are really successful.”

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