Cricket came back to America, the land of baseball

Wednesday 09th August 2023 06:26 EDT

Cricket which was more popular than baseball in US earlier came back to that country with the inauguration of Major League Cricket (MLC) on a subrub of Dallas, Texas. It is expected to be at least worth $ 1 billion. Recently, stars including England’s Jason Roy, Australia’s Aaron Finch and Afghanistan’s Rashid Khan have been paid six-figure sums to descend on Morrisville, North Carolina and on a suburb of Dallas, Texas, for the inaugural season of MLC.

The MLC, a six-team competition modeled after the increasingly lucrative Indian Premier League (IPL), is the brainchild of a group of investors, many of South Asian descent, including Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. The names of US cities and states are superimposed on franchises formed in Mumbai and Delhi. As several IPL copycats popped up around the globe, they spied an opportunity to bring professional cricket back to their adopted home and serve a cricket-starved constituency in the region, which the sport’s governing body claims contains an improbable 30 mn devoted fans.

MLC's investors made it a priority to gain acceptance into cricket's ever-crowding schedule, which now features T20 competitions in nations including India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Australia, South Africa, England, the West Indies, the United Arab Emirates, Canada, and Nepal. The decision to play some of next year’s T20 World Cup in the US also added to the urgency, as did the potential inclusion of cricket in the 2028 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, with America given the automatic right to field a team.

The gamble, at least for Morrisville, has already paid off, with thousands of cricket fans flocking to watch the MLC’s group stage matches. Some delighted in witnessing the competition’s first-ever century, shot in 41 balls by South African Heinrich Klaasen. Trinidadian spin bowler Sunil Narine, who had flown in to captain the visiting Los Angeles Knight Riders, said, “We are not sure what is going to happen, but the game's roots in the country, which date back to the 1750s, are far deeper than those of the three major modern US sports: baseball, basketball and American football.

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