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How the USA could become a financial powerhouse in world cricket

Cricket has undergone significant change not seen in most sports over the past 20 years

Photo by David Dibert on Pexels
Photo by David Dibert on Pexels

Opinions expressed by Digital Journal contributors are their own.

It may come as a surprise to some that cricket is the world’s second-largest sport behind football. Much of that owes to its remarkable presence in Asia — especially India — but the game has the potential to be truly global with cashed up organizations at the heart of it all.

In a nutshell, cricket has similarities to baseball. A batter faces up to a bowler (known as a “pitcher” in baseball), with the aim to hit as many runs as possible. The bowler’s aim, like the pitcher, is to get the batter out. However, cricket has different formats, with the traditional “Test” (five-day game) and “One Day” games (eight-hour matches) dominating the circuit from the 1970s through to the mid-2000s.

Like the world around us, cricket has undergone significant change not seen in most sports over the past 20 years. In 2003, the first ever “Twenty/20” (T20) match was played in England, which lasted about three hours. The first international T20 was played in 2005 before dipping its toes in the mammoth ocean that is franchise cricket from 2008 onwards starting with the gigantic Indian Premier League (IPL).

Cricket’s changing landscape: How India can drive huge growth of cricket in the USA

Tests and ODIs still have their ardent supporters. However, fans are so time poor that it is almost impossible to watch those matches in their entirety given the time they take to complete. Also, the rise of smartphones and instant gratification saw fans resonate very strongly with the T20 format due to its fast-moving nature in the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

After astronomical amounts spent in media rights deals, sponsorships, ticket sales and the like in T20s, cricket now faces a situation where franchise owners can eventually rule over national boards. Companies who own teams in the IPL also own teams in other leagues around the world including in South Africa’s SA20, West Indies’ Caribbean Premier League and USA’s Major League Cricket (MLC).

Fans also see this coming. In a recent survey on the future of cricket by CricBlog, 75% of respondents believe that franchise owners will soon hold more power over national boards around the world. In fact, this is becoming reality, with South Africa opting to keep their best players in their IPL-backed SA20 league instead of having them participate for the national team in their tour of New Zealand in February 2024.

The financial potential of cricket in the USA

This ties closely into how India can drive the growth of cricket in the USA. The MLC, which kicked off in July 2023, secured $120M in funding from a suite of investors, and four of the six teams in the tournament have owners from the IPL. MI New York is affiliated with Mumbai Indians, whose owner — Mukesh Ambani — is the world’s richest sports owner.

A tournament of this magnitude can help the sport gain a foothold in the country and attract a new generation of supporters in the quest to make cricket a truly global game. With a population of around 335 million, the United States has immense potential, and the entertainment that T20 provides can create positive experiences for new fans.

The IPL is second only to the National Football League (NFL) when it comes to broadcast value per match. The TV and media rights deal for the 2023-27 cycle totaled US$6.2 billion, a significant jump from the $US2.55 billion in 2018-22 and US$1.1 billion in 2008-17.

With 370 matches between 2023 and 2027, the IPL’s broadcasting fee of US$15.11 million per match is only second to the National Football League (NFL), trumping the English Premier League (EPL) football, National Basketball Association (NBA) and Major Baseball League (MBL).

With the IPL’s influence all over the MLC, there is a clear vision to drive revenue from the new league. Also, not only is the USA seen as a haven for franchise cricket, but internationals as well. The nation will co-host the T20 World Cup in June 2024, where 20 countries will battle it out for the crown.

This is another step towards growing the game of cricket in the US. One dream is generating even higher broadcasting deals where the funds can then be used to further develop cricketers to bolster the USA national team in the coming years. 

In fact, there are already a number of academies across the country, confirmed by former captain Saurabh Netravalkar in a 2021 interview. The intention is to keep growing and unlock the potential of not only a large population, but a sports-loving one at that.

The message is clear. Keep an eye out on cricket’s growth around the world driven by the USA. The franchise model, in addition to international cricket, is well and truly upon us, and is set to bring in a new generation of fans from all over the world.

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Written By

Jon Stojan is a professional writer based in Wisconsin. He guides editorial teams consisting of writers across the US to help them become more skilled and diverse writers. In his free time he enjoys spending time with his wife and children.

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