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31/05/24 | 12:17 pm

T20 World Cup 2024: ICC’s scheduling boo-boo

By: Aditya Ahuja

When the International Cricket Council (ICC) announced in 2021 that the T20 World Cup would expand to accommodate 20 teams, up from the previous 16, the cricketing world erupted in joy. This enthusiasm stemmed from the recognition that, despite concerted efforts to promote cricket as a global sport, it had not yet achieved the desired level of international recognition.

Adding to the euphoria, the ICC further announced that the United States would co-host the tournament alongside the West Indies. This decision reflected a clear vision: to make cricket a truly a world sport, tap into new markets, and engage diverse audiences. Awarding co-hosting rights to the US, a country with a burgeoning interest in cricket, was a particularly strategic move.

Fast forward to 2024, with the first-of-its-kind T20 World Cup just a couple of sleeps away, a critical issue that remains largely unaddressed is the poorly timed scheduling by the ICC, coinciding with the Euro Cup.

The T20 World Cup kicks off on June 2, while the Euro Cup opens on June 14. This overlap oversight has to be one of the biggest scheduling blunders for a sport that is desperate for attention.

Soccer is the fourth most popular sport in the US, while cricket isn’t even in the top 20. This clash is not just about viewership numbers, it’s about missing massive a opportunity for cricket to reach out.

The T20 World Cup, with its shortest and most dynamic format, is ideal for attracting new fans. Without the distraction of the second-biggest football tournament in the world, cricket could have enjoyed a period of unchallenged visibility, drawing in sports enthusiasts who might otherwise overlook the sport.

My uncle, who has lived in Los Angeles for over 20 years, said, ‘I love cricket, but I love football even more. Not sure if I’ll be able to follow the T20 World Cup properly, let alone go to the stadium and watch it.'”

Even the fervent South Asian demographic, known for their love of cricket, face a dilemma and may switch between these two big events.

Abhimanyu, a Delhi-based sports writer, said, “Cricket fans care about football, but football fans never care about cricket. It’s pretty weird that the ICC didn’t think through all this. It’s so basic.”

This scheduling misstep will surely compromise the potential impact of this ambitious expansion, missing a golden opportunity to introduce cricket to a broader audience and secure a stronger foothold in new markets.

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