'US a significant market and big opportunity' - Lorgat
Haroon Lorgat, the ICC chief executive, has backed the United States as a prime venue for international cricket and added it is very much in the ICC's interests to have more locals picking up the sport by taking cricket to the schools. The US, in terms of its massive fan base of immigrants from the subcontinent and West Indies, Lorgat said, had an advantage over other Associate nations as a staging venue. Lorgat also acknowledged it was not possible to get the American audience "excited" through the game's longer formats, and that Twenty20 was the best medium to draw their attention.
"Sometime back there was recognition that the United States was a significant market and a big opportunity to spread the game," Lorgat said on Cricinfo's audio show Time Out. "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. I think the size of the market is surely an advantage. The expats who follow the game so richly; it's an advantage."
Lorgat, however, emphasised the US would not merely be a staging centre. "In the last couple of years in particular, we have been very conscious to get cricket played in the schools," he said. "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 [see it as] a staging centre."
The US national team, though, has struggled when taking on the Test teams and Lorgat admitted it could be better. However, he disagreed over complaints that the globalisation of cricket had an adverse effect on the game's quality at the international level. "Established nations continue to compete against each other. If anything, some of our established nations should be picking up their level of performance," Lorgat said. "So it's less about the developing world and their competitiveness. I think it's about our established nations being competitive themselves.
"I think introducing cricket to any nation presupposes that ultimately they would be competitive. It's fair to say that by now they [USA] should have been a lot more competitive than they presently are. But we have 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."
Don Lockerbie, the chief executive of the USA Cricket Association, had admitted Twenty20 remained the preferred format for increasing the following for cricket in the country but also believed there lay a potential for the longer formats, too, to take off. Lorgat, though, was skeptical of the prospects for Tests and ODIs in the US. "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," he said. "Twenty20 is a format, that without doubt in my mind, you would get people in the United States excited with."