Oakland, Florida, Los Angeles are some of the cities that have been recced by the ICC Venue inspection team as prospective centres for the 2024 T20 World Cup jointly hosted by United States and West Indies, informed USA Cricket president Atul Rai.
It is understood that ICC event’s biggest box office fixture -- India versus Pakistan -- is likely to be held in USA and not the West Indies keeping in mind the crowd support for both teams.
“Preferably it will be held in the USA considering that India’s T20 games against West Indies in Florida were complete sell out,” Rai told PTI in an interview.
The 2024 global event will be first of its kind in the USA while the Caribbean nations have already hosted one 50 over (2007) and one T20 World Cup (2010) each.
“The ICC events team headed by Chris Tetley had travelled up and down back in May when they inspected a lot of grounds across various cities. Few weeks back (December), they again came back and narrowed their search,” Rai added.
The marquee-event is aimed at raising the traction of cricket in North America where a sizeable Asian population resides and is passionate about the game.
“The ICC wants to give us at least 18 months time to get all the venues ready and functional for a global event. During the last inspection, they checked out the Oaklands Coliseum in San Francisco and a ground in Los Angeles (Woodley Cricket Field). They also looked at grounds in Dallas and Texas,” said Rai.
Florida’s Fort Lauderhill ground, which had hosted a few India versus West Indies T20 games last year, remains an obvious choice of venue.
One of the issues in USA is that most grounds that will be converted into cricket grounds are baseball fields with shorter dimensions and lesser capacity.
However, Rai assured that dimensions won’t be an issue as ICC would choose appropriate grounds and every aspect is being looked into.
“If we look at the ground in Los Angeles, India A had travelled here to play five games against Australia. It’s a proper cricket ground with big boundaries and also spectator capacity is pretty good,” Rai stated.
Rai also informed that Major League Cricket (MLC) has assured the parent body that venues in Dallas and Texas will be match ready.
But what could be more exciting is New York having a lot of cricket fields which can be made tournament ready with portable galleries.
“New York is also a possibility as there is a huge population that follows the sport. Two decades back, the then Mayor of NYC had claimed that one out of every eight New Yorker is connected to cricket,” he said.
Rai said in another six to eight weeks time, ICC will intimate them about venues selected and how many matches will be held in the USA.
He claimed that the biggest advantage is building infrastructure in no time.
“The temporary galleries if it is held in any of the New York City grounds will be built in maximum two weeks. In New York, all grounds have turf pitches.” The main bone of contention, however, will be the timings of the matches that will suit the Indian and Pakistani audience back home.
If the matches are beamed live in India late evening, it will be morning start which might not be great for a run fest which is expected in T20s.
“If matches are held in West Coast then they will probably start evening local time and aired early morning in India. If it’s east coast then it could be evening India time and morning local time. ICC will have final call although they would take our inputs,” said Rai.