Nov 18, 2021 - Sports

Cricket sets sights on America

Illustration of a cricket wicket, ball and bat styled as a deconstructed US flag

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The world's second-most popular sport is preparing to make a splash stateside.

What's happening: The U.S. on Tuesday was named co-host of the 2024 T20 World Cup, a major global event that will take place a year after Major League Cricket — a domestic T20 league — debuts.

The backdrop: As MLC builds out its infrastructure, including a flagship stadium in Dallas, it will do so with the World Cup in mind. The U.S. will host 18 matches in 2024, while co-host West Indies will host 37.

  • Currently, there's just one World Cup-ready venue in the U.S. (Central Broward Park in Florida), with Dallas slated to open in late-2022 as the second. That number will have to grow before 2024.
  • Of note: Minor League Cricket, MLC's little brother, launched this summer, playing 200 matches at a variety of venues across the country.

The big picture: Cricket's 2.5 billion fans worldwide trail only soccer's 4 billion. The U.S. is home to just 30 million of those fans, but that number has more than doubled over the past decade.

  • "The cricket World Cup is one of the most-watched events in the world," Tom Dunmore, MLC's VP of marketing, tells Axios. "This will bring hundreds of millions of eyeballs to cricket in the Americas."
  • While traditional test cricket's five-day format may be a hard sell for an American audience, T20 matches are fast-paced and last just two to three hours. "It's really easy to get hooked on," says Dunmore.

Zoom out ... Consider soccer 30 years ago: FIFA's decision to award the U.S. with the 1994 World Cup was contingent on creating a top-tier domestic league. Two years later, MLS was born, and 25 years after that, the USMNT is ranked 13th in the world.

Looking ahead... The ICC has another goal in mind, too: Bringing cricket back to the Olympics, where it's been absent since 1900. They're aiming for 2028 — in Los Angeles.

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