Cricket in the USA June 1, 2010

'ICC should look at USA for future events' - Lockerbie

Cricinfo staff

Don Lockerbie, the chief executive of the USA Cricket Association, has said the key to popularising the sport in the United States lies in more international cricket being played there. Speaking to Harsha Bhogle on Cricinfo's audio show Time Out, Lockerbie said he aimed to replicate for cricket the wave of popularity the FIFA World Cup in 1994 generated for football in the United States, and believed that, like football, cricket too would have a professional league in the country in due time. While acknowledging that Twenty20 cricket was the main vehicle to draw more people to the game, he added there was potential for the longer versions to attract a fan base as well.

"In 1994, the soccer World Cup took place, and it generated great interest in the sport and it was followed by the Major League Soccer which started in 1996, two years later," Lockerbie said. "We are looking to do that too. We would love for the ICC to look at the United States in the future for some ICC events.

"We are well under way in a planning situation wherein we are working towards professionalisation of cricket in the US," he said. "We are working towards equalising what some of the other Associate nations like Ireland, Scotland, Holland and Canada have been able to do recently; beginning to put some of their players on professional retainers, and some of these players are now travelling and playing all over the world and getting IPL opportunities. We need to do that in the United States, and along with that will come a professional league."

USA recently hosted a Twenty20 series between Sri Lanka and New Zealand, and Lockerbie said that was the first step towards getting more fans to the game. "We are looking to bring in the best teams in the world," he said. "Even 14 years after the Major League Soccer started in the United States they are averaging 14,000, 17,000, 18,000 people to a match, which isn't too bad. But when Barcelona comes to play Manchester United in Philadelphia they have 90,000. Why is that? When Mexico plays the United States, they can get 100,000 at the Rose Bowl. So the point is that the soccer has a good history now of being positive. By bringing in 'Destination USA,' events, and what we think was a successful Sri Lanka-New Zealand series, we start that way."

The potential for investing in cricket in the US remained huge, Lockerbie said, given the country's infrastructure and record for hosting sporting events with success. "Well, our little game is the second most popular sport in the world, as I view it, behind football. With the great interest from the rest of the world, in the United States, people want to do business in United States. We believe that we are on our way to corporate sponsorship, investment in US cricket, development of facilities.

"The mayor of Indianapolis is very serious about building a cricket stadium; Indianapolis is often called the sports capital of the United States. The Indianapolis 500 just took place the other day, with 500,000 fans at the event, the world largest one-day sporting event. We know how to put on events, and their attitude is - cricket is the second most popular sport in the world and why wouldn't there be a stadium in Indianapolis.

"The city of New York has said to us that one day they would like to have a cricket venue, and they could see themselves as the capital of cricket in the United States. We could become the capital of cricket in the western hemisphere. This is a very big step, and I am hoping to work with my board of directors, our investors, and sponsors, to make that happen in the next three or five years."

In addition to making the United States, with its large untapped fan base, a prime destination for international cricket, Lockerbie stated two other main goals: ensuring the US national team qualifies for the 2015 World Cup and developing a youth programme by taking cricket to the schools.

While conceding Twenty20 cricket was the spark to draw more support for the game in the US, Lockerbie said that Tests and ODIs too, if played by the right teams, stood the potential to take off. "That's [T20] is the perfect storm for us. We are better organised, and there is growing interest. Even in the last five-six years, the amount of immigrants moving to the United States, who are cricket crazy, has just doubled and tripled. So we are ready to go with that perfect storm, the Twenty20 game.

"In the right city, with the right demographics, with the right two teams playing, I don't see why four-five day cricket is any different than Phil Mickelson teeing off on Thursday and winning a golf tournament on Sunday. You've had 60,000 people walking that golf course. Now if India plays almost anybody in a Test match, say in New York, we will have 40,000-50,000 people there."

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Android on January 7, 2014, 20:37 GMT

    ha ha ha . ho !!! not ICC dear!!! but U gotta plead BCCI!!!!

  • Simon on June 2, 2010, 14:25 GMT

    The U.S. are far too insular about their sports. For all the investment in football/soccer, the U.S. national team is still relatively weak. Same story for Rugby. The U.S., for all the money there, for all the potential, will never embrace cricket as much as the I.C.C. would like. The problem is that the I.C.C. is wasting money on this pipedream, taking it away from countries that deserve it more. Nations that are feilding good sides and have the basic thing the U.S. lacks - home grown natural talent.

  • P on June 2, 2010, 13:45 GMT

    Why are people so presumptuous about Americans. I can see why Lockerbie is saying all these nice things about US because his job depends on the growth of cricket. Most American cricket fans follow cricket on the internet. I am not looking forward to seeing cricket in my city even if ICC were to organize it in the place where I live. If you are a real cricket fan the you probably know what waste of time it is especially if your team loses. It is an emotional rollercoster that has an impact of your work place productivity. I would rather work and follow cricket scores with a browser open in a background than go watch cricket in a stadium. If I were to watch anything in the stadium then it has to be college football or NFL football. The crowd is electrifying in football games. Who wants to see cricket games in USA with bunch of sparsly populated crowd of old people.

  • Dummy4 on June 2, 2010, 10:52 GMT

    Why USA?Let them first qualify for the world cup.Then we can play matches there.

  • Dummy4 on June 2, 2010, 10:14 GMT

    Please not the U.S here also.Why usa?The ICC is not aiming at any place in asia or africa.They are being partial.They even had no problems in letting a person without cricketing background from australia to become the ICC president.Let a team called U.S.A qualify for the world cup for once and then we can have matches played in the U.S.A

  • Andrew on June 2, 2010, 9:34 GMT

    i would like to see cricket in the USA do wel.l People forget that cricket has a long history in the county in fact thay were in the 1st international ever played in cricket against canada in 1844

  • Dummy4 on June 2, 2010, 9:13 GMT

    Revised, I did not read this article or any comments. For 25 years I am thinking how to promote cricket in USA. I had several Pakistani test cricketers as my close friends and I used to sit with players due to free passes. I know that it is very very difficult to get local Americans to get involved in Cricket. You may have to steal the fans from baseball. Of course we have plenty of overseas cricket fans already but they don't have enough money or time. So After long calculations finally I reached to the conclusion that just before major league Baseball game a 6 over cricket exhibition match should be played and televised. Moreover, temporarily game has to be modified for locals so it is pretty much like baseball. For example all 11 players from each teams plays one whole inning and each player is only allowed max3 pitches if he gets out so be it but last player is allowed 6 pitches if he gets out so be it. Each team must have 6 pitchers each is allowed one over. This is the best.

  • hayden on June 2, 2010, 6:30 GMT

    if a team led by don bradman couldnt win them over in the 30's what chance have they got now with more sports competing in that market? besides the game has too many internal problems that must be sorted out before expanding! it only makes cricket as a sport look stupid when the icc cant answer what exactly is required for test status or even produce a championship for ten test playing nations!!!

  • Dummy4 on June 2, 2010, 4:34 GMT

    i think they should try cricket in usa, how can we say it won't work in usa without even trying it? not everyone has to be agree with me, every sport need some time to settle in any country and i think it would work really good.

  • Dummy4 on June 2, 2010, 0:39 GMT

    Is this guy for real? Does this guy live in the USA? Does this guy listen to sports radio and TV in America? If he were any of these things he would not be spewing all this nonsense about getting Cricket in this country. Cricket WILL NEVER take off here. Football (Soccer) did to a limited extent because of girls that mostly play it and their mothers that dcrive them around to do it. Then again we want to introduce cricket to the world and we want to use the T/20 version. This is suppose to let people know the game of cricket??? As far as I am concerned I an not going bto watch ANY of this stupidity they call T/20 cricket. This version of the game is for those people who want to make a quick buck from the game, but feel ashamed to come out and say so, instead the dress it up as cricket. Sorry not for me.

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