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From potential to popularity: What does cricket need to succeed in America?

July 2, 2024

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A single cricket ball
The ball used during a Cricket game. Photo by Pexels user Manoj Poosam

The first International Cricket Council (ICC) tournament ever held in the United States has just ended, with the USA Cricket team turning in a stunning performance by defeating Canada in their opener and pulling off an exhilarating upset win against Pakistan, making it into the final eight.

The ICC reported that the Men’s Twenty20 (T20) World Cup drew unprecedented interest for cricket in the U.S., with 190,000 fans attending matches across the country. There has also been a surge in digital interaction, highlighting the growing popularity of cricket and the opportunities for expanding cricket’s fanbase in America. “There have already been 2.7 million USA-based users recorded visiting the ICC website and App, which is up 370% from the number recorded for the entire ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2022, of those viewers 52% are new fans coming to the ICC platforms,” stated the ICC.

And with the interest comes money – from a sport that until recently generated little attention in the United States. The India vs. Pakistan match at Nassau County International Cricket Stadium in New York perfectly showcased cricket’s newfound influence, drawing the largest crowd in U.S. history for cricket with 34,028 attendees. Forbes reported that the demand for this match between long-time rivals greatly exceeded the number of available tickets, with the original tickets priced at $175-$400 being requested more than 200 times the allocation in the public ticket lottery. Resale prices exceeded $600 and hospitality (VIP) tickets were priced between $2,500 and $10,000. 

The Anderson Economic Group projected that the recent match between India and Pakistan in New York would generate over $78 million in economic impact, including $46 million from direct sources (ticket sales, attendee spending, and stadium construction) and $32 million from indirect benefits such as increased business for local vendors and services. Considering the significant economic impact that a single cricket match can have on the New York Metropolitan area, it’s evident that cricket has the potential to boost local economies in the U.S. This means that further investment in cricket infrastructure and tournaments could yield substantial economic benefits nationwide. This match’s success could be attributed to the large South Asian population in the U.S., where Indians form the largest Asian ethnic group. Cricket is the most popular sport in many South Asian countries including India and Pakistan, and the growing immigrant population has contributed to cricket’s overall popularity in America.

As the World Cup concludes and the second Major League Cricket (MLC) season is set to begin, this is a crucial moment in time that can decide the trajectory of cricket in the U.S. Cricket is the second most popular sport in the world, and this World Cup has proved that there is a space for cricket in the U.S. sports market. So the question remains, how exactly will Americans become loyal fans of a sport that was not on their radar until a year ago?

Access to streaming

With the rise of streaming, the sports media landscape has become incredibly fragmented, where people can no longer simply change the channel and discover a new sport or pick up the remote and tune in without any additional paywalls. 

Todd Merkow, a sports media instructor at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, noted, “Cricket in the United States is a much, much larger opportunity than anything this country has ever seen since soccer. The parallels are phenomenal.” Unlike soccer in the 90s, cricket’s growth is stunted by its lack of availability on free television. 

Willow TV was the official broadcaster of the T20 World Cup in the U.S. and Canada. So if the average American heard about the U.S. team dominating the Group Stage and wanted to watch their next match, they were greeted by a $9.99 monthly paywall.

The T20 World Cup was the first in a series of ICC tournaments that Willow will stream, having secured ICC rights in the U.S. and Canada until 2027. In addition to major ICC tournaments, Willow TV will also be carrying the upcoming MLC season, making them the biggest decision-maker in the cricket streaming space. According to Merkow, strategic partnerships and marketing efforts, such as subsidized free-to-view periods and cross-promotion, in addition to focusing on long-term engagement from viewers would be the best ways for Willow to ensure cricket’s success in North America. 

Infrastructure: Grassroots and national level

Currently, there are only two ICC-recognized stadiums in the U.S. for One Day International (ODI) tournaments: Central Broward Regional Park in Lauderhill, Florida, and Moosa Stadium in Pearland, Texas. With the upcoming MLC season and the lack of made-for-cricket stadiums with high seat capacity throughout the country, matches will be hosted in only two cricket stadiums: Grand Prairie Stadium in Texas and Church Street Park in North Carolina.

The grandly named Nassau County International Cricket Stadium was built especially for the eight group-stage matches of the T20 World Cup – but is now being dismantled. Audiences heavily criticized this temporary $30 million 34,000-seat stadium for its unpredictable pitches and slow outfield (referring to the low-quality playing ground) that resulted in low scores all across the board. Despite the criticism, many fans are disappointed to see the largest cricket stadium in the U.S. gone so soon. 

Cricket infrastructure is not only important to generate substantial economic activity in a city, but also significantly enhances the sport’s ability to grow a fan base. Enrique Rupert, a multimedia sports journalist who has reported on the growing cricket infrastructure in Arizona, highlights this by saying:  “If there’s a stadium in every state, people will think, ‘there’s a stadium ten minutes away from me. There’s a game on right now; maybe I should go watch.’ The more accessible anything is to people, the easier it is for the sport to take over or become popular.”

Infrastructure at the local level is just as important as the major leagues in order to foster early engagement and sustain interest in the sport. 

Maanas Lalwani, vice-captain of Arizona State University’s Cricket Club, emphasizes the need for better local facilities including practice areas. “We do practice in batting cages, which are specifically for baseball, but having proper cricket nets would be ideal. They’ll give an opportunity for a lot of people who love the sport to practice.”

Full membership with the ICC

There are three main formats of cricket played at the international level: Test matches, One Day Internationals (ODI), and Twenty20 Internationals (T20). The U.S. is currently an associate nation with the ICC rather than a full member, meaning they play T20 and ODI cricket but not Test matches, which is the traditional form of the game played since 1877. If the ICC were to grant USA Cricket full member status, the team would be allowed to play against the best and most respected teams in cricket. According to Rupert, “A lot of people in the world still think that Test cricket is the mecca of cricket worldwide” and if American players can compete at a higher level, it will naturally elevate their skills and popularity, a plus for players and the sport. 

This exposure would also open doors for the team to participate in major franchise tournaments worldwide, such as the Indian Premier League (IPL), a franchise valued at $10.7 billion

USA Cricket’s goal is to become a full member of the ICC by 2030, but after their unexpected success in this year’s T20 World Cup, it is possible that the ICC may grant it sooner.

Looking to the future

As cricket gains traction, the future looks promising. “I truly believe that within the next ten years, cricket would definitely be in our top five sports in America,” says Rupert. 

Over the next decade, the U.S. will participate in multiple T20 and ODI World Cups, providing numerous opportunities to win one of these prestigious tournaments, including the 2026 T20 World Cup. Additionally, cricket will be at the 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles, giving the USA Cricket Team a big home stage to establish itself in the international sphere. 

Until then, building cricket at the national and local levels is vital for the sport’s success in the U.S. With the second season of MLC beginning so soon after the conclusion of the World Cup, Americans who were introduced to the sport now have the opportunity to further dive into the sport without a pause in action.


  • Ananya Bhargava

    Ananya Bhargava is a Junior at Arizona State University, pursuing a bachelor’s in Digital and Integrated Marketing Communications with a certificate in Leadership in Business and a minor in Public Relations and Strategic Communication. She loves to l...

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