Monday, May 27, 2024

T20 World Cup 2024: Quiet Build-Up, USA Cricket in Turmoil – Cricket’s Big Leap Raises Concerns – News18

Must read

With less than 17 days left for the 2024 edition of the T20 World Cup to begin, there is no buzz about the multi-nation event set to be co-hosted by the West Indies and the USA. In what is the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) most ambitious project of taking cricket to America, the build-up of cricket’s serious entry on those shores has been embarrassingly quiet and low-key so far.

The global body officially unveiled the Nassau County International Cricket Stadium, which will host some crucial clashes of the T20 WC, including India vs Pakistan. It was surprising not to see a single Indian cricketer among the “multiple sports stars” who assembled for the first look at the modular facility.

Ignoring Local Audience, Overshooting Budgets, No Practice Facilities: ICC’s New York Plan for 2024 T20 WC Adds No Value to the Game

Unsurprisingly, the broadcaster Disney, who paid nearly Rs 24 000 crore for India ICC media rights from 2024 to 2027, is not pleased with the efforts to promote the first ICC event falling in the new cycle. Thanks to their far-out bid, Disney will find it very difficult to recover the amount as the cycle has 179 fixtures, and only 26 involve India. The lack of buzz around the tournament, the nightmarish difference in time zones, the question of whether seats will fill up during top-tier matches and a lot more have been a growing headache for the organisers.

“There seems to be no marketing plan for the World Cup, and Disney is naturally very disappointed. Cricket going to the USA was being talked about as the most ambitious project to date, but has anything happened after the initial promotions featuring top India cricketers like Virat Kohli’s face? Not enough is happening,” says an industry source tracking developments.

USA Cricket’s imminent suspension

The global cricket body wants to grow cricket in the USA by assembling the biggest superstars, but very little is being done to ensure a robust structure is being put into place. For starters, USA Cricket continues to be in a mess and is mere spectators. It’s because of the T20 World Cup that the imminent suspension has been delayed, and the ICC is likely to act sternly after the multi-nation event.

From the regular departure of CEOs to the administrative mess to the selection issues, the house continues to remain out of order in the USA, and even the ICC seems to have had enough. Dr Noor Mohammad Murad was handpicked by the ICC top brass as USA Cricket CEO to restore order, and his termination hasn’t gone down well with them.

T20 World Cup 2024: ICC Fails to Take a Leaf Out of MLC Book, Focuses on India Prime Time by Ignoring American Audience

“Nothing was improving in the USA. Musical chairs happening with officials and top bosses in the ICC felt Dr Murad, who did so well with Afghanistan, was the right guy to set the house in order. But even he wasn’t allowed to function, and his contract was terminated after just eight months. This was it. ICC had enough with them, and it was just because of the World Cup that extreme steps weren’t taken,” says a well-placed source.

It is reliably learnt that a top ICC official even tried to convince Dr Murad to stay until the end of the World Cup, but he disagreed. Before getting the letter of termination, Dr Murad ensured that the ICC was informed about all the mess—administrative, financial, and cricketing—in the USA.

Complete List of T20 World Cup 2024 Squads LIVE

“Dr Murad is a man of principles. There were plenty of efforts by the ICC to make him stay till the end of the World Cup because they thought it would attract bad publicity, but he wasn’t ready to share space with USA Cricket officials. Well before he got his termination letter, Dr Murad wrote letters to the ICC putting everything on record and even informed USOPC (US Olympic and Paralympic Committee),” adds the source.

T20 World Cup 2024: Overshooting of Budget for ‘Temporary’ Infra Work in USA Irks ICC’s Finance Committee

CricketNext tried contacting USA Cricket chairman Venu Pisike, and the story will be updated when he responds.

Where is the big picture?

USA Cricket officials have been kept at a safe distance from all the T20 World Cup activities, and they continue to be the spectators co-hosting the marquee event. It wasn’t a surprise that not a single USA Cricket official was quoted in the media release unveiling the Nassau County International Cricket Stadium.

It is understood that none of the current USA Cricket officials are involved in planning and implementing the event, and the ICC outsources everything to third-party vendors. Even most of the infrastructure upgrades will only last the duration of the World Cup and will play little role in growing the game at the grassroots level.

The land in Nassau County, where the modular facility is built, is given only for the duration of the T20 World Cup and the dismantling time. Discussions are underway about using the facility for third parties, but no decision has been made yet. The permanent structures in Florida and Dallas, too, have undergone upgrades, but most of them will be just temporary overlays.

Cricket is arriving in the USA, but the global body has clearly missed the bus when it comes to addressing the big picture—the big picture of growing the game in the region and tapping into what could be one of the most rewarding markets for the sport.

Latest article