The Big Book of Bad Ideas: Winter Cricket
Cricket has flirted with good ideas tinged with madness many times before. Aluminium bats, coloured clothing, Allen Stanford. Heck, there was a time when 20 over cricket at the highest level seemed zany.
It is fair to say some of these ideas worked out better than others.
On the surface, a three match T20 tournament in the United States, featuring some of the sports biggest names, seems like one of these slightly mad ideas that might actual work. An ideal way to help promote the sport there. Until you realise two of the games will be played in New York and Chicago in November…
Promoted by Sachin Tendulkar and Shane Warne, the three match series has clearance from the ICC and will feature names such as Brian Lara, Wasim Akram and Jacques Kallis playing on ‘drop in’ pitches at three famous baseball stadiums – Wrigley Field (Chicago), Yankee Stadium (New York) and Dodger Stadium (LA).
Sounds great, right? Big names, big venues, exciting format. It’s the kind of series that would sell well in any cricketing nation and gives the sport a fighting chance in a market that has previously had limited interest. It’s also a great way for cricket in America to move on post-USACA, who were recently disaffiliated by the ICC. A fresh start almost.
But then we come to the elephant in the room. It’s cricket. In November. In two North American cities that can get mighty cold:
Whilst temperatures can certainly sink much lower in both cities, what’s being proposed is hardly conducive to getting the best out of the players, or attracting spectators.
The Major League Baseball season will be over by November; and while the NHL will have just about moved past the early excitement October brings, the NFL is still a thing and the NBA season will have only just begun.
The idea should be applauded. Any attempt to grow the game in a ‘non traditional market’ should be applauded. But going head to head with three of the four major North American sports during winter? That doesn’t seem like the smartest move.
Scheduling these promotional games during the summer may have been difficult. The baseball stadiums they intend to use would have been unavailable, American football stadiums likely unsuitable due to their size. But it feels like an obstacle that would have been worth overcoming.
Cricket in America may not be a big deal right now, but there was a time when football struggled to make its mark there – now the MLS is gaining more and more ground with each passing season. If the ICC is willing to back events like this and they are properly promoted, then cricket might also gain a foothold.
Nothing is guaranteed of course, but at least attempts are being made. Even if doing it in November does seem akin to doing so with one arm tied behind your back…