This morning I woke up and my dad was asking me about my opinions on cricket moving to the USA. This was because of a piece done on Bloomberg about the idea of a new T20 league in the US. I decided to read this article to find out what it all was about (click here).
To my surprise the idea was alot more than a pipe dream, it has been planned to launch in summer 2013. The league has been planned to be similar to the IPL. This means lots of money, star names and Hollywood actors as owners.
T20 seems to be a perfect fit for America, as it only lasts 3 hours, quite easy to follow has cheer leaders and big shots into the crowd. The only problem is that there are many sports that Americans love, this means cricket will struggle to make a big impact. For example it has taken a long time for football (soccer) to be considered as a sport that is not just for kids and woman.
Generally it has been hard to establish other sports into the USA. This is probably due to the fact that the existing sports have established a large following which has been passed down the generations. It could also be down to a lack of knowledge of the new sports or thinking that the other sports are kinda pointless.
The biggest challenge to cricket will be from baseball, a sport many people consider similar. In my eyes T20 cricket beats baseball hands down in terms of excitement, this obviously would be disputed by baseball fans. For me there are way to many baseball games on, devaluing the sport. Another reason being that T20 cricket is actually heralded around the world, where as baseball is only popular in USA and Japan. Ice Hockey in the US is really being challenged by football (the Beckham affect), but all the other sports are are pretty settled. Football has finally made an impact and in a recent ESPN poll it was voted the second most popular sport for people aged between 12-24 in the US. So if football can have such a big impact so can cricket, one day.
The idea of getting celebrates involved in this new league is good as it will get people talking about cricket. The only thing which worries me is that non immigrant Americans will not understand the sport and therefore not watch. Another issue will be that if it does take off in the USA, there will be more pressure put onto test cricket. This being that more top players will forget about the longer formats of the game and join another money spinning league. It seems to me that eventually there could be two different sports as there are so many T20 leagues some players may solely play T20 whilst others might only play test cricket.
A question has to be asked if to suit the local audience they may change some of the laws. This is something that happened in the early stages of the MLS, this is something which would worry me. Another factor to consider is if the league will actually help young American cricketers. In my opinion to get the best viewing figures they may actually resort to having whole teams made up of world stars, meaning that it does nothing for American cricket. The fact that league is to launch through the Ashes series is another worry. This means that England now have to contest a loosing battle to the IPL for the first series and now the second series of a summer could be hit by this tournament. Another dilema for Pietersen, who would definitely be offered a contract here. Only time will tell if the UST20 will be a success for cricket or not.