USA looks to the next generation
More than 200 cricketers from all across North America, ranging in age from 10 to 15, are converging on Cupertino in the Bay Area for the largest cricket tournament to be staged on North American soil. There will be teams from Florida, the Atlantic Coast, Canada, the Bay Area and Los Angeles, each selected by "expert committees" applying standards that had to be fully documented and approved by the tournament committee before the tournament rosters would be finalised.
There were some complaints about cumbrous and overly bureaucratic procedures, but these were isolated grumbles, and most people felt they were reasonably and fairly applied.
Altogether, there are 15 teams playing for three major trophies; one for under-15 teams, the other two for Under-13 and Under-11 teams. Matches will be played according to strict ICC guidelines, on eight separate grounds prepared to exacting ICC specifications over four months of intensive ground preparations.
By way of comparison, only the World Cup championships staged by ICC have involved more than 10 teams playing at the same tournament - the Under-19 World Cup, and the Senior World Cup. And in both those tournaments, matches were played over six weeks to accommodate all participating teams - drawing the complaints from Mike Atherton about "too much cricket" that have led to so many angry ripostes from the world cricket community. So, what would it take to stage a 20-match tournament in eight cricket grounds over three days, in a direct challenge to the Atherton position? That is the challenge the California Cricket Academy has set for itself, and many will be watching to see if it succeeds.
As yet another innovation, all tournament matches will be covered by DirecTV, and will be broadcast on their Cricket Next channel which is widely viewed by satellite TV subscribers in the USA for its coverage of world cricket. The semi-finals and finals will be broadcast live on the California Cricket Academy website (www.calcricket.org) and so will be available for free to all who are interested. This is believed to be the first live broadcast of any US cricket event staged in the USA, and represents yet another first for US cricket.
Hemant Buch, President of the California Cricket Academy which is hosting the tournament, says that he is very pleased with the support from the City of Cupertino, ranging from the Mayor and the Parks Department, and the active support of players and parents as well as senior cricketers from the cricket leagues in California, who actively volunteered to try to make the tournament a success. "Now ," he said, "all we have to do is to inspire the kids to play their best cricket, in the full spirit that cricket represents."
Deb K Das is Cricinfo's correspondent in the USA