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T20 World Cup | US is starting to embrace cricket, says top American diplomat

On Wednesday, the Department of State hosted 'From Bouncers to Boundaries: An Evening to Celebrate the Men's T20 World Cup and Cricket in the USA Cricket World Cup'.
Last Updated : 13 June 2024, 04:19 IST

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Washington: The United States is starting to embrace cricket, a top American diplomat said Wednesday as the country for the first-time hosted T-20 World Cup matches, including super-popular India-Pakistan and India-US matches in New York.

"In cricket terms, I am truly bowled over. It is really a tremendous honour and privilege for the United States to be hosting the men's T20 World Cup for the very first time. This is a great recognition that our country is starting to embrace cricket, a sport so beloved in so many other countries around the world,” Richard Verma, the Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources said at a reception here.

On Wednesday, the Department of State hosted "From Bouncers to Boundaries: An Evening to Celebrate the Men's T20 World Cup and Cricket in the USA Cricket World Cup". The reception was the "largest dedicated event for cricket" organised by the US government in history, he said.

"The 20 participating national teams highlight not only the skill of the world's best cricketers, but also the expansiveness of cricket's global reach. Having the US host the Cricket World Cup would have seemed unimaginable just 10 or 15 years ago. But today, Major League Cricket is flourishing in the United States,” Verma said.

"USA Cricket continues its instrumental work in supporting our national players and equipping youth and local communities with the tools they need to succeed in this sport. And I'm guessing cricket will have even more reach in the United States by the time this tournament concludes, especially if we keep winning matches to advance to the next round,” Verma said amidst cheers from the audience.

"But regardless of the results, I think people are pretty excited. Major news outlets are covering it. According to USA Cricket, more than 400 leagues have opened up in the United States with over 200,000 players and counting. This is a win for cricket fans that want to see the sport grow in the United States," he said.

"All in all, we are in the midst of a thrilling innings that shows no signs of coming to a close. Indeed, the next several years are going to be monumental for sports in the United States. Following this year's T20 World Cup, we have the FIFA World Cup in 2026. and the 2028 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles where cricket will officially become an Olympic sport,” Verma said.

Sanjay Govil, who owns the Washington Freedom, a US Major League Cricket (MLC) team, said the national cricket team has seen great success.

“We beat Pakistan, we beat Canada, and we had a very close match against India today,” he said.

The ICC took the bold step of establishing an office in Colorado, actually bringing people over here to Colorado, creating a USA Cricket Board, and then coming out with a RFP (request for proposal) for allocating and starting MLC, Govil said.

“Following the World Cup, Major League Cricket will hold its second season in Texas and North Carolina. We're working hard to establish local stadiums for each team, build up the infrastructure,” he said.

Washington Freedom has Australian cricketer Ricky Ponting as its coach.

ICC CEO Geoff Allardice said the last week and a half has been quite surreal. “We've been having the T20 World Cup in Dallas, New York and Florida. It's been a difficult challenge to get particularly the temporary venue up in New York, but it's all been worth it,” he said.

"When we reflect on the matches there and the impact it's had on cricket in the USA and raising the awareness of cricket here, it'll be looked back on as a pivotal moment for the sport in this country," Allardice said.

India defeated USA by seven wickets to enter the Super Eight of the T20 World Cup in New York on Wednesday.

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Published 13 June 2024, 04:19 IST

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