Dazzling spectacle or damp squib? The T20 Cricket World Cup so far

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In November 2021, when the ICC announced that this year’s instalment of the T20 world cup would be held in the West Indies and The USA (a country not known for a cricketing heritage) many fans like me were intrigued for what could happen in what is becoming an increasingly forgettable tournament. The cricketing schedule is already becoming saturated with more and more domestic leagues and international tournaments, and fans can be forgiven for not getting all that excited for the fourth cricket world cup in just four years. This edition however has many factors that had me excited: firstly, the 20-nation format which sees countries such as Canada and Oman coming up against cricketing giants India and Australia, who are normally only exposed to ten countries in the ODI equivalent tournament. Then there were the host venues: games are taking place in seven different West Indies nations and in Dallas, Florida, and New York. 

As mentioned however the US lacks the cricketing prowess that we associate with the West Indies, and many feared that this would cause a contrasting quality in pitches and stadia. With America’s grass pitches needing to be imported from overseas, and no existing stadiums for cricket in their host cities, some feared that the ICC’s hosting choice would backfire.

With America’s grass pitches needing to be imported from overseas, some feared that the ICC’s hosting choice would backfire

So, have these sceptics been proved right? Well, there is little evidence to suggest otherwise. Locals in the US are largely unaware of the tournament going on and crowds have not featured many besides expats from cricket-mad nations like those in the subcontinent. The organisers gambled by placing the tournament’s biggest game besides the final, the much-anticipated India vs. Pakistan clash, in New York’s newly built Nassau County Stadium. Tickets have re-sold for over $5000 so there is clearly interest there from existing fans, but I feel it is a shame that only a handful of local people will be aware of a match that will have over a billion people on the edge of their seats on the other side of the world. Moreover, I fear that the game’s biggest names such as Virat Kohli will not be able to fully showcase their skills on a pitch that has attracted headlines for various reasons. 

Tickets have sold for over $5000

Firstly, it has needed to be grown in Australia, shipped to Florida for cultivation, and then dropped into the $32 million New York venue. Environmental concerns from this method go without saying, but such a complicated process also creates concern of the pitch’s quality. An area of grass more suited to baseball has caused outfields to be slow, and the wicket itself has shown a two-paced nature with lots of variable bounce. Critics have expressed concern for batters’ safety and the games played on the surface so far have lacked excitement, with both sides who have batted first in New York being dismissed for under 100. The ICC have publicly admitted that the pitches “have not played as consistently as we would have all wanted” but maintain that no contingency venues are needed should the quality deteriorate further. This, combined with the rained off games early in the event’s group stage period, has made for a cagey start to the competition. 

There has however been a saving grace for the organisers which is the tournament’s results thus far. The USA’s thrilling win over Pakistan in a tense super over has thrown group A wide open, and with Scotland looking impressive against England in their rain-affected Barbadian blowout, we have hope that the tournament’s minnows can create drama in what may become an otherwise dull edition of a very repetitive tournament. 

Will we see the ICC’s American dream pay off? Or will the USA just become a niche pub quiz answer for sports fans in a few years’ time. The next few weeks will be telling. 

Image: Times of India via Wikimedia Commons

One thought on “Dazzling spectacle or damp squib? The T20 Cricket World Cup so far

  • It was worth the gamble of taking it to USA and west indies
    Ive enjoyed it and the long term benefits for american and west indian cricket wil hopefully be felt with growth in their game at al levels. More funding, more exposure, more clubs, more teams, more kids more fans etc And building more cricket stadiums in USA.

    7 major failings by the ICC though
    1)was not offering the matches as free to air in the USA
    Utter madness. What a missed opportunity to expose the great game in the greatest city in the world NYC.

    Other mistakes ?
    2) ticket prices are extortionate. why? I just cant understand the greed of the ICC?

    3) too many host stadiums? Surely if theyd created a cricket village in fewer west indian islands it would have helped create bigger crowds at games in west indies? Less travel for fans too.

    4) weather? Didnt they know it would be rainy season in Florida
    5) Pitches , many poor and uneven and slow outfields
    6) awkward start times
    7) why didnt they re-play any rained off matches?

    Plus points

    USA had a great run to the super 8s their games were super exciting
    Indian pakistan India usa in new york were big successes exciting games
    Wonderful support from lesser known cricket nations like like nepal, netherlands, bangladesh
    Great to see afghans and bangladesh and americans get through

    I hope all 20 teams benefit and the funds are reinvested thrughout the cricket world into spreading the great game….Improving facilities and making it available to more kids etc

    I still believe the world needs cricket stadiums with roofs….At least 1 in every major test nation first…..Australia already has 1….india is building 1….Next up needs to be england, s africa, NZ, Pakistan, west indies….IF possible to somehow build over current stadium even better. IF it happened it would be a game changer as its ONLY the rain that stops cricket bing the number 1 sport in the world

    Reply

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