Harsha Bhogle: Continuing on the theme of cricket in the United States on this programme, we are delighted to have Haroon Lorgat, the chief executive of the ICC.
Haroon, how important is it to take cricket to the United States, given that we are already playing in so many countries. Is US a big thing for the ICC?
Haroon Lorgat: I think, sometime back there was recognition that the United States was a significant market and a big opportunity to spread the game. There are a lot of people who have got cricket heritage, living out in the US. It is a big market. So it is important that we play cricket in the US.
HB: Do you look upon it as just another staging centre, like we had the New Zealand - Sri Lanka games there? Do you see it as a place where you can get people to come and play, and beam it to the rest of the world or actually get US citizens to come and play it?
HL: No, in fact very much the latter. In the last couple of years in particular, we have been very conscious to get cricket being played in the schools. We were quite excited when we learnt that the New York police department was playing cricket with people of Indian and Pakistani origin. So it's very much in our sights to make sure that people within the United States play cricket, and not just a staging centre.
HB: Are you little disappointed with the standard of cricket in the US? They have not qualified for 2011. They are struggling to put together a competitive team. Is that part of the mix at all?
HL: I think introducing cricket to any nation presupposes that ultimately they would be competitive. It's fair to say that by now they should have been a lot more competitive than they presently are. But there is a little bit of history to that, they had a little bit of challenge a few years back, they earned themselves a suspension for whatever reason …
HB: Haroon, you are being as polite as you always are. They were fighting among themselves … weren't they?
HL: No, no … that is true. But I think we have certainly come along to them now, and said that they should be making a lot more progress. They have appointed a chief executive, if you recall, just about a year ago. The signs are quite positive, and I am quite optimistic.
HB: Let me ask you what I asked Don Lockerbie as well. Is Twenty20 going to be the missionary to take cricket to the United States?
HL: There is no doubt about that Harsha. For the people in the US who are accustomed to fast and short time spans, introducing Test or one-day cricket would simply be not possible to get them excited. Twenty20 is a format, that without doubt in my mind, you would get people in the United States excited with.
HB: There is a peculiar challenge though, that the established nations sometimes talk down to them. They don't really take them very seriously. They talk about them being a second-rate county side as we are hearing these days. Is that a problem as well, that the globalisation of the game is bringing the quality down?
HL: I am not so sure there is truth in that, because the established nations continue to compete against each other. If anything, some of our established nations should be picking up their level of performance. So it's less about the developing world and their competitiveness. I think it's about our established nations being competitive themselves.
HB: Does US have an advantage over the other associate nations? You've got Abu Dhabi as a staging centre. You've got Dubai as a staging centre. In the past, we have had a lot of cricket played in Canada with the Sahara Cup, does the US have an advantage at all, in your eyes?
HL: I think the size of the market is surely an advantage. The expats who follow the game so richly; it's an advantage. We can see that from the number of hits we have on the website. There is a huge percentage that emanates out of the US. So they have got particular advantages.
HB: There is a point of view that says that with YouTube emerging, with streaming video coming in, you don't really need to take cricket to the US because it's going there anyway?
HL: No, I think the fact that we can get people to play and increase participation in the sport must surely count for something.
HB: So we still need to explain to them the difference between baseball and cricket, you think?
HL: I think they will catch up very quickly with the Twenty20 format.
HB: So you are bullish about the cricket in the US, and you are bullish about all globalisation, are you Haroon?
HL: I think developing any sport for that matter, in particular, there was a strategy sometime back to develop the sport of cricket … is fundamental to future existence.
HB: Thanks you very much Haroon, and hopefully we will meet one day when we are actually playing cricket in the US.
HL: Thanks Harsha.
Harsha Bhogle is a television presenter, writer, and a commentator on IPL and other cricket. @bhogleharsha