USA Cricket has expressed interest in hosting the T20 World Cup during the ICC cycle starting 2023 as the presence of a significant South Asian diaspora can ensure packed stadiums across the country.
USA had hosted the Fifa World Cup back in 1994 when soccer was less popular compared to baseball, American football and basketball. Yet 3.5 million people cumulatively watched the matches from the stands.
“If you played in the USA, every venue would be sold out,” USA Cricket chief executive Iain Higgins, a former ICC official, was quoted as saying by the BBC Sport.
The Central Broward Regional Park in Fort Lauderhill, Florida has hosted six One-Day Internationals and 10 Twenty20 Internationals, and is scheduled to stage two T20Is between West Indies and South Africa in August. India played against the West Indies in Florida to a sell-out crowd.
Higgins feels they are preparing for cricket’s big-ticket events and tried to impress upon the fact that an India-Pakistan game will generate huge interest in the non-traditional market.
“One would be to persuade the ICC to be brave enough to bring a T20 World Cup to the USA,” he said.
“I am confident that we will have great quality venues that are capable of scaling up and scaling down for ICC events.”
“When you look at the number of travelling fans from the US to the last two World Cups, it shows an enormous appetite for cricket.
“Imagine India playing Pakistan in a T20 World Cup in the US - you could not build a venue big enough. When we eventually get to present to the ICC, they will be pleased and we will be able to satisfy that they should be ready to entrust us with one of their significant world events.”
Part of preparation could be the introduction of a T20 league in the USA.
“The plan is to have at least six venues in this country that are capable of hosting international matches,” said Higgins.
“Other sports have used their major events as catalysts for growth in non-traditional markets.”
The USA gained ODI status at the beginning of 2019 and beat Scotland in December. Higgins is eyeing Test status within the next decade.
“It’s our objective to have a team that’s competing with full members of the ICC in the short term, and it’s our objective to become a full member of the ICC in the next 10 years,” he said.
“On-field performance, as we saw with Ireland and Afghanistan, is going to be a real critical part of the assessment as to whether we’re ready to play a role at that level.”
(with PTI inputs)