Welcome to the USA

Ali Khan (L) and Chris Gayle pose for a photo during the lighting of the Empire State Building in celebration of the International Cricket Council’s
T20 World Cup Trophy Tour on March 18 in New York City. - AFP PHOTO
Ali Khan (L) and Chris Gayle pose for a photo during the lighting of the Empire State Building in celebration of the International Cricket Council’s T20 World Cup Trophy Tour on March 18 in New York City. - AFP PHOTO

CRICKET has reached a stage in its evolution where the USA is its hemispheric collaborator with the West Indies in the production of a World Cup (WC) tournament.

This competition is based on T20 cricket, one in which each team has a maximum limit of twenty overs to bowl in an innings.

This is the level to which the game of cricket has been reduced, from a five-day Test match to approximately a three-hour game.

A Test match is a two-inning match. To prove superiority over an opposing team, one side has to bowl out the other twice for fewer runs than one has scored.

That proves the better team. Since the first Test match was staged between Australia and England at Melbourne in 1877, all international Test games have been played to this criterion.

Having to play two innings, the pitch is a vital part of the proceedings and could be termed the essence of the contest. England and Australia competed in the early days, then South Africa in 1889, leading up to the WI from 1928 and New Zealand in 1930, followed by India in 1932. They are called Test matches.

However, the first official international cricket match was played between the USA and Canada in 1844 in Manhattan – 33 years before that first official Test match at Melbourne. International cricket has now arrived at various levels:

The WC, which began in 1975 and consisted of 60 overs per team’s innings, plus the addition of the T20 WC that started in 2012.

Consequently, the start of limited-overs cricket. This was due to falling revenue in England in the County Cricket championship, a three-day first-class competition among the seventeen counties.

The English authorities decided that it was not financially feasible to continue with a league on its own that consisted of home and away games of three days duration, twice a week. It was also five hours a day.

The majority of cricket spectators could not afford the time needed off work to attend cricket matches. Although there was talk of the innovation of a limited-overs competition, first-class cricket was to be left alone.

Thus, in 1963, a 60-over knockout tournament was the brand chosen to share the summer with the county championship. It was a huge success.

Sussex won the first challenge. Interestingly, they invited the touring West Indies team to a 60-over game which they won.

WI had just completed a victorious tour of England, winning the Test series by three Tests to one under Frank Worrell. The game was a light-hearted affair agreed to by the WI as a public relations favour to the Test and County Cricket Board of England.

Nonetheless, it caught on and it was the birth of a new era in the cricket world. The counties were happy and more financially profitable ideas were forthcoming.

It was the change of the face of cricket which never paused for a moment as the spectators were very happy to witness a one-day game in a knockout system that completed its competition in 20 games, plus a final.

During this time Test cricket continued to be popular. It was thus that the aficionado, while being able to go out and enjoy a one-day game, never lost his appreciation for Test matches.

The massive change that brought the game into the high earnings of players, was the introduction of T20 cricket, the symbol for the 20-over game that made the game shorter, batsmen merciless, and most of all, of high-spirited enjoyment for spectators.

After its introduction in England in 2003, India expanded it by introducing the Indian Premier League in 2008 with sponsors pouring millions of dollars into the sport and attracting cricket players from around the globe, enticing them with big bucks they never dreamed possible.

Hence youngsters, especially batsmen, use this as their motivation to achieve greatness, not only measured in runs and wickets but in US dollars.

Unfortunately, the financially hard-up countries like WI that, despite their size, have been producing first-class cricketers plentifully over the years, have found themselves in a bind. They’re producing cricketers who are benefitting the franchises, however, they cannot match the fees being paid.

The USA now has the opportunity to use their physical size and financial clout, to guide themselves into this style of cricket, whereupon, together with WI, are apt to benefit the sport in the western hemisphere.

This short version of the sport is expected to attract a USA neophyte fan.


"Welcome to the USA"

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