By Dyon Ravello
In the United States Sport is run under a franchise system, and NBA, NFL, NHL and MLS are among the top leagues in the world. Since the rise of Twenty 20 cricket a global cricket boom has begun, IPL, Big Bash, Stanford T20, Champions League and even cricket at the recent Asian Games held in China. Yet the United States in all its glory for sport has failed to join the party, with fellow associate nations like Afghanistan, Ireland and Netherlands making great strides over the past six years dating back to the 2004 Champions Trophy in which the USA played. The main reason for American failure to push on as a force in the Associate cricket world is its lack of infrastructure not only within administration but more so in terms of a National Cricket League.
Here in America the National Team is selected from regional tournaments. These tournaments take shape in two phases, conference tournament from which four of eight teams qualify for the National Series. The four teams who play in the national tournament they would have played a maximum of six games compared to only three matches for the remaining four. With that said an American cricketer plays club cricket and a minimum of three senior matches before he represents his country on the world stage during a calendar year. All due respect to the recent successes of the national team in divisions four and five but this system is not reflective of how professional sport is organized in America and is just amateurish.
In the Northern regions of America the cricket seasons runs from April through October. USACA needs to develop a National Cricket League which can be a business model similar to the other top sport leagues in the country. Initially the league should consist of 10 teams/clubs with at least 10 host cities. The clubs can be mirrored off the current regional system with the addition of two new franchises. They are as suggested Empire State, New England, Atlantic, Floridians, US Academy, Midwest, Great Lakes, Texas, California and the Pacific.
The National Cricket League with its 10 franchises, investment from USACA and its recent deal with Cricket Holdings America, will see the teams playing each other on a home and away basis in two day, 50 over and T20 contests. This structure will see the number of total games increase from a range of three to six to a range of at least 18-20, with the level of cricket in America truly improved, with regards to professionalism, talent pool, skill set, commercial gains and administration.
Some may ask why the Midwest? Not just the Midwest but more so Indianapolis, the amateur sports capital of the world, has reached out to USACA so that Indy can be involved in the development of cricket as its South Asian community continues to grow.
The national cricket championship can be played on seven weekends throughout the summer season. With 50 over games played on Friday or Sunday, and two day games of Friday/Saturday or Saturday/Sunday.
A league of this magnitude would mean partnering with numerous stakeholders. Parks Departments, to develop turf pitches and nets alongside the current matting or artificial strips. Media houses to carry the matches live, highlights, online, print and even radio coverage.
American cricket has the potential to rank among the best in the world, with neighbors Canada who are similar in culture and resources continuously staking their claim near the peaks of the cricket realm. USA should not be at want to replicate the feats and the precedence set by the wander boys of cricket over the past 12 months Afghanistan. Furthermore a push toward test status should be foremost in mind as is the cases with the Irish.