Already one of the most widely followed sports in the world, cricket seeks to further break into the mainstream around the globe. Pushing the existing short-form cricket to appeal to the fast-paced desires of younger fans, the sport is even toying with far shorter versions of the game. There’s Chris Gayle pushing for T10 in the Olympics, as well as the UK starting a star-summoning 100-ball competition, The Hundred.
Somehow, the United States is both seen as the most prominent sports market in the world while simultaneously being devoid of an elite-level league and truly massive fandom for the two most popular sports in the world. Its general aversion to football is well documented, while a dismissal of cricket has mostly been overlooked. Now, the sport long brushed aside in favour of baseball looks to be making a comeback, with all of the right pieces falling into place to support its potential burst into the mainstream.
Elements in place to boost US cricket awareness
Slowly but surely, cricket is making a name for itself in the United States outside of being a sport beloved by the English, Indians, and Australians. Taking place relatively nearby, the Caribbean Premier League has already been laying down some of the groundwork by playing games in Florida. To a great extent than how elite European football teams play preseason matches in the United States, and more like the NFL coming to London and Mexico City, the CPL has played several competitive fixtures in the US.
Also increasing awareness is the increased access through sports interactions in several states. Over the last couple of years, states like Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Oregon, and Iowa have opened extensive and regulated online sports betting scenes. The industry expert Legal Betting shows that markets are on offer for all sports, including boxing, golf, XFL, and the Big Five. While still niche in the US, the cricket betting markets cover just about every outcome possible. With the chance to back cricket, interest will grow in legalised states.
Another form of interaction that’s available to a high standard in the US is in the realm of video gaming. The US is a colossal video gaming market, clocking in with a market size in excess of $60 billion in 2020. Well-positioned to offer an immersive and informative experience is the game Cricket 19, with its developers, Big Ant Studios steadily building cricket back into mainstream sports gaming. So, when Americans can’t watch cricket on Willow TV or ESPN+, they can play the game at their convenience themselves.
USA Cricket driving towards the top-class international competition
The governing body of American cricket hasn’t been a particularly successful post, with the ICC suspending the USACA several times before its members unanimously expelled the organisation. In its place rose a seemingly more committed USA Cricket in 2017. Under the new governance, cricket in the US has rather quickly positioned itself for potential top-class international contention. With T20I status since 2019, the team has a shot at advancing to the 2022 Cricket World Cup Qualifier with the World Cup League 2.
To spur the sport in the country, investors from Bollywood to Silicon Valley are pilling in to bolster the upcoming Major League Cricket competition. A new face to the ever-surging domestic T20 scene, the US-based contest is set to commence in 2022, with a feeder competition, Minor League Cricket, also being established. Along with this effort to bring big names to the country’s cricket scene, the governing body is also ambitiously targeting overseas players to make residents and then bring them into the USA team. While the US team faces a tremendous uphill battle to qualify for the 2022 World Cup, the inaugural season of the MLC will almost certainly help to propel the sport in the country further.