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T20 World Cup 2024: American mindset alienates cricket

During the last three weeks or so, the International Cricket Council tried to shove cricket down American throats, hoping that their venture would eventually tickle the fancy of the non-South Asian diaspora.
Last Updated : 16 June 2024, 19:31 IST

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Lauderhill: For a country that insists on being world champions at pretty much everything, even though they mostly run in-house, franchise-based leagues, the United States of America is not very good at opening itself to the world. 

The word that best describes the staple American mindset is ‘insular’. They are mostly caught up in what happens within their borders, even that barely, and close themselves off to new experiences, new perspectives, and in this case, a new sport. 

During the last three weeks or so, the International Cricket Council tried to shove cricket down American throats, hoping that their venture would eventually tickle the fancy of the non-South Asian diaspora. 

It worked in that some of them realised they needn’t prefix cricket with ‘the’, but why would a country which enjoys the blue-collared version of cricket, baseball, bother itself with cricket?!

Cricket, while digestible to those exposed to it, is far too nuanced a sport for Americans, they prefer something simpler, less time-consuming, and not as dictated by the elements. Obviously, that would be the case for a nation which likes to eliminate ‘U’s where not needed. 

The ICC didn’t bother itself with such detail. They have seen the American sports market grow exponentially throughout the last couple of decades and decided to cash in because older cricket centres are not providing enough cash flow these days. 

Outside the subcontinent, very few countries concern themselves with serious cricket. Even England, the land of its origin, is not particularly fond of it anymore so the ICC was left with little choice. 

This hasty arrangement led to one of the most poorly organised ICC events to date. Besides the pitches at the Nassau County International stadium, the venues were hardly a joyride for those putting in serious miles to land up in Long Island. To add to that, the Florida leg was almost entirely washed out due to rain.

Given the Caribbean’s experience with cricket, it is unlikely that many problems will crop up going into the Super Eights, but that’s never stopped the ICC from finding new ways to exacerbate situations. 

Irrespective, this is not a piece on the ICC, this is about their intentions in America and how it tanked because America is not open to the idea of newness. Also, the ICC didn’t market the sport well enough within the country. Save for some hoardings outside the venue, there was no branding done to showcase a World Cup.

The locals were curious about the spike in traffic and bookings and such and enjoyed the revenue churn, but they didn’t know anything about the cricket itself. 

“I think I could watch it, but I wouldn’t choose to. If it’s playing on TV and I happen to be around, I might catch a little bit of it, it’s like baseball, I think,” said Veron Dece, a cab driver in Long Island. 

Dece is a semi-professional baseball player who initially thought cricket was like lawn bowling. Many of them hadn’t even heard of the sport. That’s the level of knowledge the locals possess, and they’re fine with it.

The Americans could not be bothered with curiosity. They’re set in their ways, with their rituals, with their sports, and they will not let anything come in the way of it. 

Take this for instance, a World Cup game was being televised at a sports bar in Miami, a rerun from Nassau obviously, and a group of Indians latched onto it, but the locals wanted to watch a college baseball game from a few days ago instead. 

Obviously, they changed the channel and plenty of spitting and hitting was witnessed on the diamond, and that’s just how it goes. 

The Asian diaspora will want more cricket in America, and it’s quite likely that the ICC will return, especially now that the United States of America has a decent team, but cricket will never really seep into the minds of the Americans. 

Not because it can’t, it’s because they don’t want it to. 

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Published 16 June 2024, 19:31 IST

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