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T20 World Cup: What legacy will the tournament have for cricket in the US?

T20 World Cup: What legacy will the tournament have for cricket in the US?
T20 World Cup: What legacy will the tournament have for cricket in the US?


Perhaps the only real legacy of this tournament is that cricket has shed some of the stuffy image it has in the United States.

One of the reasons why cricket failed to catch on in the US in the 19th and early 20th centuries was the desire of those in charge of the game to retain a sense of Englishness – a view not prevalent throughout the British Empire was unusual.

The club that hosted the celebrated first international cricket match between the US and Canada in 1844 – St George's CC – had changed its name from New York CC in 1839 and banned American players from participating.

The current US team is a very different mix.

Four of the team were born on American soil, but the rest are Americans because they want to be, a quality that appeals to many in this vast and diverse country.

It seems that Saurabh Netravalkar, the fast bowling software engineer, has not turned down any interview request. Vice-captain Aaron Jones, the USA's leading points scorer, has spoken intelligently about popularizing the game.

There are also fragments of stories outside the field that appeal to the imagination.

American cricket journalist Peter Della Penna met Chuck, from Boynton Beach, Florida, who was dressed in stars and stripes overalls and wandering around in the rain on the ground in Lauderhill during the breakout against Ireland that allowed the US to advance to the Super 8s .

“Chuck had never seen cricket in his life but said he had to be there,” Della Penna said.

“'I saw them beat Pakistan. I saw them come to Florida. I need a ticket! I have to support the boys!'”

The US equivalent of the Barmy Army appears to have its first member.

Elsewhere, in a dive bar in Dallas, in the early hours, it was incredible to listen to a visually impaired American man talk with such enthusiasm about the joy of listening to BBC cricket commentators.

The passion of the South Asian diaspora in the United States for playing, attending and watching cricket matches will sustain it in the short term in this country.

However, some of the key stakeholders recognize that change will have to happen at some point to capitalize on the word always uttered when discussing cricket in the US: potential.

“If it ends up being a sport only for the diaspora, cricket will not flourish in the US,” said Soma Somasegar, an investor in the T20 franchise tournament Major League Cricket, which was launched last year.

“You need people who can capture the media's attention, and by extension, reach a broader population to capture their interest – and over time, their inspiration.”




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