Cricket in the US?

It’s not exactly us managing to get our act together and put ourselves on the map, but there is a movement afoot to run a little experiment here in the States – a 7-match One-day International series between India and Australia. The current idea is to have the seven matches at, and I quote, “an indoor NFL stadium in New York”.

There are a couple of problems, aside from the fact that there’s a tussle over how the earnings are split up, with Australia wanting half of the take, and India not exactly in agreement. First is that cricket is designed to be played in more of an oval-shaped staduim (though they can create the boundaries necessary from any type of field really). Nope, the problem is that there isn’t an indoor NFL stadium in New York. At least one that is ready to host sporting events this year.

Interestingly, the BCCI (Board of Control for Cricket in India) claim that they will be able to garner $6 million per match in TV fees, etc. While that’s fine (and proven with the events in Kuala Lumpur in fall), they seem to miss the point.

If they want to promote cricket over here, they should start by finding someone who is willing to pick up the matches on a proper network; they can use the international announcers. As it is now, only people who subscribe to a premium service on top of a satellite service can see any cricket here. By allowing a proper network (ESPN, I’m looking your way, what with having the rights to the Ashes in SE Asia, along with your partnership with CricInfo) to cover the matches, it would be useful as there would be people who would be browsing channels to see this unusual sport with unusual voices speaking, and would stop to watch.

Now, let’s discuss where to actually hold this. The organisers say that they are looking either at New York or Toronto. What isn’t specified is the time of year they would be doing this. It would seem that the most likely time would be in summer, July or August based on the make-up of the Aussie schedule for their winter (Zimbabwe tour in June, T20 Champs in South Africa in September). It will likely be hot, but that shouldn’t be too much of an issue – extra drinks breaks are easy to come by. It would also be baseball season, so that could rule out Toronto (as the most likely venue would be Skydome Rogers Centre, which is also home to both the Bluejays and the Argonauts) based on the scheduling.

In New York, you could feasibly pull it off at at any of three stadia (preferably a combination of the three) – Yankee Stadium, Shea Stadium and the Meadowlands. The good news is that the first two are natural grass surfaces (though the sand in the infield would be a concern, as would be pitch placement); the Meadowlands is a synthetic field, albeit one that is meant to be a close replacement for natural grass.

Of course, they could always decide to try an innovative approach – have it around the country. Then you would only have to worry about late flights.

In any case, it is an interesting proposal – one that certainly would have a little bit of interest here, but not too much. Who knows? It might just come to pass that in a few months’ time we *are* discussing the third ODI played at the Meadowlands.

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