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The Growth of Cricket in North American Countries

When you think of cricketing countries, you may think of the historic love of cricket in England, or you may think of the hordes of crowds attending cricket in India at events like the IPL. You don't necessarily think of Canada or the USA first and foremost. However, that could be changing now, as there are a number of ways in which the sport is becoming much more popular throughout North America.

In 2006 there were around 30,000 people playing cricket in North America, but by 2017 that figure had increased by more than 500%. This shows the fact that the appetite for cricket is growing.

As well as more people taking part in cricket there has been a growth in viewership. This is partially driven by TV deals for some of the new tournaments in Canada and the US. It is also driven by sports betting Canada and America-wide. The option to follow along with games, and the money that comes into the sport through the gambling industry, are always likely to help with the growth.

Gambling companies and sports go hand-in-hand a lot of the time, and the biggest cricket competition and teams in the Canadian leagues feature gambling companies as sponsors and partners. The growth can be spurred on by further investment from sports betting companies, who in turn see benefits from more people tuning in.

Top Cricketers Play in North America

Canada and the US in particular have seen a lot of growth in the field of cricket, in spite of the fact that so many people in these countries watch hockey, football, and basketball first and foremost.

It surprises some people to learn that Canada first played in One Day International cricket back in the 1970s, which is a very long time ago for a sport that has only recently entered the mainstream there.

You'd be hard-pressed to call any US or Canadian cricketers elite-level on the international stage, but there are some very talented sportspeople coming out of these countries and engaging in cricket.

The Major League Cricket tournament, launched in 2023, has been a way for the USA to attract some new names to the country to play cricket. The likes of Aaron Finch, Sunil Narine, and Faf du Plessis are all captains of teams in the tournament. On top of that, there have been coaches like Ricky Ponting coming to the country to ply their trade.

Over the border in Canada, we've also seen some huge names come and take part. Perhaps most notable was a stint by Steve Smith after serving his ban, as he came back to compete in the GT20 tournament.

Some Stories Have Captured the Imagination

Disney showed an interest in a particular cricketing feat when they made a film about "Million Dollar Arm" and this story will be familiar to baseball fans too. In a revolutionary way of performing trials for MLB teams, two young cricketers, Rinku Singh, and Dinesh Patel signed to baseball teams after open trials in India where they proved their strength and pace. The thinking behind the competition, dubbed "Million Dollar Arm" was that there are many youngsters in India capable of throwing the ball at 90 miles per hour, which can translate to the baseball field.

One thing this definitely achieved was a new interest in cricket, which was perhaps not the original plan of agent J.B. Bernstein.

The ICC World T20 - A Sign of the Changing Times

On Sat, 1 June 2024, the T20 World Cup will start with a fixture that nobody could have predicted 20 years ago. The USA will take on Canada in Dallas, acting as a curtain-raising event that people will watch as far afield as Asia, Australia, and South Africa.

The World Cup has been reworked in its format recently, and the fixtures now include some extra teams, including the growing national forces that are America and Canada.

Cricket Development in Recent Years

Major League Cricket, along with a few other tournaments and competitions, has seen a huge amount of money put into the development of cricket in North America. Plus, the fact that the countries will host some of the games for the upcoming T20 World Cup has meant a necessity for better stadiums and infrastructure.

Nassau County International Cricket Stadium is perhaps the biggest example, a ground that will see over 30,000 people packed in to watch cricket when the World Cup gets underway in June. We've also seen other stadiums developed and grounds adapted so that cricket can be played there.

Major League Cricket was broadcast to many millions, and interest in Canadian leagues has also been steadily growing. Superstars like Steve Smith coming to the country to regain fitness have seen more eyeballs on the sport, along with many players deciding to end their careers by either playing or coaching teams in the US and Canada. The future looks bright for this most English game in the US and North America.