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‘T20 World Cup Will Spread Awareness’, Says USA Cricket Chairman

The T20 World Cup will spread much-needed cricket awareness in the USA but eventually, it is the lure of competing in the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics that will attract local Americans to the game that is mainly played by expats, feels USA Cricket chairman Venu Pisike. USA is co-hosting the event alongside West Indies and the US team will also be making its World Cup debut when it faces neighbours Canada in the tournament-opener on June 1.

The team is mainly made up of semi-professional cricketers of South Asian heritage with former New Zealand star Corey Anderson also switching allegiance to his adopted homeland of USA. Former Indian first-class cricketer Milind Kumar and former India U-19 player Harmeet Singh are also part of the squad.

Speaking to PTI, Pisike agreed it is a major challenge to take cricket to the masses in USA.

“So far, cricket is predominantly an expats’ game, but with the marketing and promotion activities during the World Cup, there is some momentum and the World Cup will definitely boost the opportunities to expand the game in the USA,” said Pisike.

“Definitely, the World Cup is bringing a lot of awareness and then the opportunity for cricket to be in the Olympics, that will definitely attract the community because the US is a huge sports country.

“Olympics is the prime area where all the sports bodies are focusing on since cricket is going to Olympics, that will actually give more opportunities to expand the sport between the World Cup and the Olympics.”

New York will be ready in a week’s time

The World Cup will be played across three venues in the USA but the facility that has been under close watch is in New York where India and Pakistan face off on June 9.

India will also play Ireland and USA in the 34,000 capacity makeshift stadium in Eisenhower Park. The drop-in pitches have been been imported from Australia.

The stadium will be ready in a weeks’ time, said Pisike.

“So, the new stadium that is being built in New York will be unveiled in a week’s time. It will become a wonder of cricketing infrastructure to put up in a very short time,” he said, referring to the construction work that began only in January.

“The pitches were recently brought in and dropped into the stadium. So, we are expecting decent pitches in terms of striking a balance between the bat and ball.”

Looking at long-term collaboration with BCCI post World Cup

The USA did not to train in India with the World Cup taking place at home but Pisiki is seeking BCCI’s help for training and exposure of his players after the mega event.

“Yes definitely (we are talking to BCCI). In the past, we have sent our men’s team to Karnataka before they participated in the CWC qualifiers in 2022. And there was some alliance with the associations, Tamil Nadu Cricket Association and Andhra Cricket Association to send our under-19 boys before the World Cup to be held in Sri Lanka.

“There are several discussions happening with the various cricket associations and we will definitely want to partner and use the resources that are available. And that is something we definitely look into for future.” The BCCI recently made it clear the associate nations can’t directly get in touch with state units and all requests have to be routed through the parent body.

Stable governance a challenge but we are in compliance now

The previous cricket body in the USA was suspended by the ICC due to governance issues and the current regime was given recognition in 2019. Pisike acknowledged the challenges on that front.

“The governance will be streamlined with the opportunity to become an Olympic National Governing Body because the US Olympics requires certain guidelines to be followed and certain policies to be adopted.

“In terms of financial management and other related activities, we are fully in compliance compared to the previous regime,” he added.

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