Twenty20 could spearhead expansion – ICC
International Cricket Council chiefs believe the World Twenty20 format could help them finally break into the huge American market.
The ICC, the world’s governing body, have tried and failed on several occasions to increase the sport’s popularity in the United States – most recently by proposing staging part of last summer’s Caribbean-based World Cup in Florida.
But after the phenomenal success of the ICC World Twenty20 in South Africa over the last fortnight, Malcolm Speed, ICC chief executive, confirmed: “I heard about an article in one of the Washington papers that was talking about the phenomenon of Twenty20 cricket. It has been televised in the USA and it’s been televised in China, so it’s the perfect vehicle for cricket to develop in new countries.”
Unlike Test match and one-day international cricket, which traditionally takes all day for spectators to watch, the spectacle of Twenty20 cricket lasts just over three hours and is full of the thrills and spills of boundaries and wickets falling to keep even untrained watchers interested.
Australian Speed stressed: “In the country I have come from we have grown up with a cricket culture so we’re used to sitting there for seven hours watching a 50-over game or we’re used to sitting there for a portion of five days watching a Test match.
“But this gives us another opportunity with a different vehicle to go after those different markets.
“We’ve said many times that we don’t expect cricket to be a major sport in the USA, but it’s already a niche sport in the USA in that there are already lots of Indians, Pakistanis, Sri Lankans and West Indians who are there and they play cricket – we can build on that and Twenty20 is a great opportunity.”