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Last Updated:  Sunday, 9 March, 2003, 14:02 GMT
Cricket's next hot spot?
By Matt Majendie
BBC Sport

Cricket is making an impact in America
Cricket is making an impact in America

When the football World Cup was awarded to the United States in 1994, more than a few eyebrows were raised across the globe.

Football always has and still does hold a subsidiary place in the hearts of the sport-loving public of the USA.

Stranger still is the notion that America could host cricket matches in the 2007 World Cup.

But delving deeper into cricket in the country - which is ranked 16th in the world by the ICC - makes it less unnatural.

The game across the Atlantic is steeped in a far lengthier history than some of the leading cricketing nations.

Settlers from England introduced the game to the country in the early 17th century, with John Adams, one of the country's founding fathers, said to be a keen cricketer.

Interest remained without totally taking root for the next two centuries, climaxing in arguably the country's greatest ever cricketing victory on 5 January 1888, when they toppled 2007 Cup hosts the West Indies.

Facts on American cricket
1. Founding father John Adams was one of the country's first cricketers
2. US team member Nezam Hafiz died in the 11 September atrocities
3. Disney World could host 2007 World Cup matches
4. America's greatest win was against the West Indies in 1888
5. America has only four real cricket pitches

But, as other cricket-playing nations moved toward being professional, US sides either remained amateur or were disbanded altogether.

The sport remains very much amateur to this day but is steadily spreading, with all the states playing the game.

And America's cricketing hot spots are said to be New York, New Jersey, California, Florida, Chicago and Texas.

In total there are 29 established leagues, 500 clubs and 10,000 players in America.

And cricket administrators are confident it is expanding all the time.

American authorities are working closely with the International Cricket Council to spread the game still further, with immigrants increasingly making up the majority of cricketers.

In their official mission statement, the United States of America Cricket Association said: "To promote the game of cricket at all levels in the US, develop national teams that will be competitive and succesful in international competitions and to become the symbol of excellence in sports throughout the world."

Test ambition

On recent form, America seem good enough to match the current World Cup minnows.

En route to winning the American Championships last year, they beat Canada by three wickets and the Canadians - notably John Davison - have recently impressed at the World Cup.

But the Americans are still a long way from ever being considered for Test status.

While there are 200 cricket wickets across the 52 states, most are matting or astro-turf and only four - all in California - are real grass.

Aside from spreading interest in the game at school level, the goals for the Americans are shorter term.

Over the next two years, USACA president-elect Ehsan Mani has targeted victory in the ICC World Series competition in 2004 and the ICC Trophy in 2005.

Longer term, the goal is simple - to qualify for the 2007 World Cup, especially as potential co-hosts.




SEE ALSO
USA could host World Cup matches
09 Mar 03 |  World Cup


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