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Last Updated:  Thursday, 13 March, 2003, 07:52 GMT
US cricket struggles to keep up
Mickey Mouse
Will Mickey be welcoming international cricket in 2007?
In four years time cricket fans could be treated to the sight of World Cup cricket played against the backdrop of Sleeping Beauty's castle.

Organisers of the 2007 event, scheduled for the Caribbean, have apparently already begun talks about staging some games at Disney World in Orlando.

It would seem a sensible move, given the lucrative marketing opportunities offered by promoting the game in the United States.

But cricket has a long way to go before it even registers in the consciousness of most Americans, let alone sparking any interest.

Former USA captain Faoud Bacchus, a West Indian who moved to Florida in 1988, admits that the sport has failed to compete with traditional American past-times.

"The major problem with cricket in America is that it is not played in schools," he told this website.

"The bulk of people who play cricket in America originate from other countries where cricket is popular so they tend to be people who are past their best.

"We have got to get school kids involved. If that happens, it gets carried into schools, then parents get involved and then sponsorship comes in and you can hire better coaches. Then there is no limit."

Faoud Bacchus
Bacchus played 19 Tests for West Indies before moving to America

As it is, the American team is made up almost entirely of players from traditional cricket-playing nations, with little hope of change in the near future.

Bacchus himself played for West Indies in 19 Tests and 29 one-day internationals before being made captain of the United States at the age of 42.

Seven years later he is no longer skipper of the national side but still plays in the Central Florida League, one of 29 leagues across the country.

"The bulk of cricket is played in New York, but in general it is played in pockets throughout the country," he says.

"Every state has its own league and has its own rules - but the major difference is we only play 40 overs."

At the last ICC Trophy, in Canada, America won three of the five group games they played, before losing all four of their matches in the play-offs.

HAVE YOUR SAY

Another factor in America's failure to make an impact on the international scene is the lack of turf wickets in the country.

"We mostly play on matting rather than turf," Bacchus explains.

"Shivnarine Chanderpaul came over from West Indies to play here before the World Cup and he really struggled with his batting.

"It's very difficult to adjust between turf and matting and back again."

On top of that, getting the squad together for pre-tournament training can be a logistical nightmare.

"The squad we have now has all the talent and experience but the problem is that players have to come from all over the country for get-togethers," Bacchus says.

"So what tends to happen is that the squad is just bundled and sent to play in an event without any time to prepare.

"Usually by the time the team understands each other, the tournament is over."

But despite his misgivings about the future of the game in America, Bacchus does believe that Florida would provide an ideal venue for World Cup cricket.

"I believe it is strategically well-placed to host a couple of games," he says.

"We have all the facilities, hotels and attractions and it's only a short plane ride from West Indies."

Whether America will be participating in the event, though, remains a distant hope.


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