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Is USA ready for its own T20 cricket league?

Anuj Poudel
CONTRIBUTOR
Feature
520   //    14 Dec 2018, 18:26 IST

In November this year, USA Cricket released an unofficial statement that they were planning to start their own T20 professional domestic competition. If everything goes according to plan, the cricket fans in the USA would be enjoying their own T20 league by 2021.

The chairman of USA Cricket, Paraag Marathe, expressed positive views about the plan. According to him, this is an opportune moment to conduct a cricket league in the country.

With the formation of a new Board of Directors, and based on the recent good performances of USA in World Cricket League Championship Division 3, USA Cricket can be said to be on a rare ascent right now.

Paraag Marathe: USA Cricket Chairman
Paraag Marathe: USA Cricket Chairman

After four failures, USA finally have earned their first WCL division 2 berth. They will be joining Oman there in April 2019, with matches to be held in Namibia.

USA's batting proved to be their strength. They scored over 200 each time they batted first, losing once in a last over finish against Oman. In the decider against Singapore, they easily chased down 162 in the 26th over.

But cricket fans in the USA are mostly expatriates, with a sizable chunk being immigrants from South Asia. Cricket in the USA has not been able to expand much outside of this fanbase.

The 2016 T20 series between India and the West Indies attracted a full house at Lauderhill, Florida. But apart from that, the crowd attendance has not been too encouraging.

It is a well-known fact that every sport wants to have its own fanbase in the USA. The commercial value of the country is larger than probably any other nation in the world.

As of now, American football, baseball and the NBA are the biggest sports brands in the USA. Even if the cricket board gives its best shot, it will take a few decades for cricket to build that kind of stature in the USA.

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USA Cricket will need to invest in bringing the big cricket stars to the country, and regularly keep playing against them. Not to forget, the performance of the national side will matter a lot as well.

Just like he did with Canada and Nepal, USA coach Pubudu Dassanayake would need to inspire the USA team to their first ever World Cup appearance. If and when that does happen, a T20 domestic league in the USA would be a good way to build on the team's success and popularity.

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