The Board of Control for Cricket in India(BCCI) chief, Anurag Thakur has backed the board’s decision to conduct a T20 series in USA. In what can be called a watershed moment, the Indian cricket team, for the first time, will be playing an international match in the United States of America. It will take on reigning World T20 Champions West Indies in a two-match T20 International series on August 27 and 28 in Florida’s Fort Lauderdale.
With around 3.8 millions Indians residing in the USA , Mr. Thakur said that the country have the potential to become a huge market for cricket.
“America has round about 3.8 million Indians, and a huge number of Asians. Everyone there is passionate about cricket and they travel across the world to support and watch ‘Team India’,” Anurag Thakur told Times of India on Wednesday (August 3).
“They connect to their roots through cricket and the BCCI thinks that this is the right time and opportunity to take cricket in that part of the world and make it popular.
“They follow the game online passionately .All these factors further prove that North America (USA and Canada) want to see quality cricket.”
Citing the example of Sahara Cup, which was played between India and Pakistan from 1996 to 1998 in Toronto, Thakur said that the board’s attempt to host matches at offshore venues have been always well received. The chief said that these matches help cricket to make new fans.
“I think you have forgotten that in late 90s, the BCCI was the first board to try offshore venues with the Sahara Cup in Toronto and those matches were well-received and successful,” said Thakur. “In 2006, we played a series in Malaysia and also played cricket in Abu Dhabi and all of them were offshore venues.
“These kind of events have two direct benefits -1) The chance to explore new venues, new fans and new areas, and 2) It also promotes cricket in new countries. All this is good for the growth of the game.”
This will be third time that the USA is staging cricket matches in recent times. Last year in November, an All-Stars series (comprising of retired cricketers) was organised by cricket legends Sachin Tendulkar and Shane Warne. USA also staged six games of the Caribbean Premier League (CPL).
“The initiative by Sachin was very well-received in the US, and even organising the CPL met with good success there. So, all these are signs that the Americans want to see cricket, especially T20, which is similar to baseball, which we know is one of the most popular sports in that region,” felt Thakur.
Thakur revealed that the board is willing to explore more options to increase the game’s horizon.
“We would definitely look at other countries, where cricket can be played and followed. Malaysia, Singapore, Canada and the UAE are always an option,” he said. “Lot of these things depend on the availability of the teams. I’m sure that like India, all the countries too feel that if cricket has to become a global sport, it has to reach new places and spread the game.
“Look what successful European soccer clubs like Bayern Munich and Manchester United do. They take their stars to new places and popularise the game. We are very sure that other countries would love to play against India in these new off-shore venues.”