Sport is a huge part of American culture, whether it’s playing, competing or spectating, people in the United States spend a good chunk of their time enjoying sports games and competitions in some way. While sports such as football, baseball, basketball night receive the most airtime on live TV channels and news shows, cricket is one other sport that is once again finding its heading toward the media spotlight.
Cricket first became popular in the United States in the 1700s, where it was regularly played for fun and competition in locations such as Philadelphia, New York, Hartford, and Boston. By the middle of the next century, over 1,000 cricket clubs had been set up across the country.
However, around the time of the Civil War, baseball had overtaken cricket in terms of popularity due to it being a favourite game amongst soldiers at the time. The trend continued over the years and by the early 1900s cricket was pretty much non-existent across the states.
Popularity of Cricket across the world
Cricket players and spectator figures have improved somewhat since this time but still lags behind many other sports. It is now far more popular in other countries like India, the United Kingdom, Australia and Sri Lanka.
Worldwide, cricket is actually the second most popular sport and has a following of up to 2.5 billion people. However, in the United States people continue to pay more attention to big league games and competition, including the National Football League and Major League Soccer.
Fans of these sports often enjoy placing sports bets on league competitions. As more and more states continue to legalise sports betting and online sports betting, the choice of betting options and operators continues to grow in the country.
Development of the MLC
It is likely that soon fans of cricket will be placing wagers on their favourite teams thanks to the development of the new Major League Cricket, which has been modelled on other domestic cricket competitions like the Indian Premier League. Major League Cricket was founded in 2019 and is preparing to be launched some time in 2022.
Within the MLC, there will be six franchise teams. One team has been confirmed as being located in Dallas, and other teams are likely to be based in New York, Atlanta, New Jersey, Chicago, Los Angeles or San Francisco, as there is already a small market for the sport in these places.
The launch of Major League Cricket all forms part of the USA Cricket’s foundational plan which aims to increase the popularity of cricket amongst American citizens and improve the playing standard of its national team.
Before the Major League kicks off next year the Minor League Cricket will act as a developmental league and will play their competition this year. The Minor League consists of 24 teams that are all privately owned franchises.
The overall target of this process is for USA Cricket to achieve full membership status by the International Cricket Council on or before the year 2030. As part of these ambitious plans, the AirHogs Stadium in Texas is set to receive a $10 million dollar facelift to prefer it to become a venue solely hosting cricket matches.
But who is behind these plans to revolutionise the cricket industry in the United States?
There are some very well-known faces in the business world that are backing the expansion of cricket in the country, one such business leader is Microsoft’s Satya Nadella. Nadella is behind Microsoft’s plans to extend its campus in Washington to include a professional quality cricket pitch.
Other supporters from big name technology brands include Sundar Pichai from Google and Indra Nooyi from Pepsi. Even famous individuals within the entertainment industry are encouraging the development of cricket in the United States, with Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan investing in the Major League Cricket’s Los Angeles Knight Riders.
Even with all of the public support, there is still no guarantee that cricket is about to take off in America. There are still a number of obstacles that the MLC must work through in the medium and long term to ensure their success.
One main focus for the new MLC teams will be to secure the right talent to play at such a high level. It is also important that this talent is fairly evenly distributed so that all six teams have the ability to compete well.
One huge benefit of the development of Major League Cricket is the increased investment and development opportunities that will make its way to youth cricket clubs in the country. New talent programmes will be put in place to harness and grow the skills and abilities of younger players, helping to ensure the longevity of the sport.
While there is already a good fan base for cricket in the United States, the development of Major League Cricket is a huge opportunity for the sport and will hopefully increase the amount of attention and investment that cricket receives exponentially over the next few years.