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T20 World Cup: Cricket in USA awaits Disney’s authentic Donald Duck moment

ICC’s estimates of 50m-60m cricket fans in the US might feel hugely optimistic.

One in five Americans questioned in a recent YouGov poll, external did express an interest in the T20 World Cup and 52% of those surveyed believe the US team will win the tournament.

And a 2-1 series win over Bangladesh for the US in the lead-up has raised hopes of the associate member giving a few full members a bloody nose.

But, the million-dollar question is how (and if) cricket can jostle its way into the psyche of the American mainstream.

It’s never going to come close to overtaking the traditional sports of baseball, basketball and NFL. It took football a while to get its act together.

Cricket is being played by American universities, but does not have ‘Varsity’ status with the National Collegiate Athletic Association.

The tens of millions of dollars in university and federal funding, and profile, akin to college American football and basketball, remain firmly out of reach.

The pathway below MLC is Minor League Cricket and further down the pyramid it becomes a mishmash of leagues and private academies, but talent will climb.

There should be opportunities to play international cricket in the future for those who break through. Of the USA’s squad for the T20 World Cup, 13 are over 30 and the other two are 29.

Four members of the 15-man party – Nosthush Kenjige, Jessy Singh, Steven Taylor and Aaron Jones – were born in the US, for those who consider such things relevant.

For now, the South Asian diaspora – there are approximately 6.5 million people from India or with Indian heritage in the US alone – have the passion, players and finances to carry the sport along.

There is also a sizable West Indian population, along with Anglophiles such as England World Cup winner Liam Plunkett, who emigrated a few years ago.

Throughout the next few weeks, though, expect the inevitable vox pops with Americans baffled by cricket to emerge on social media.

The 1994 football World Cup brought a similar reaction, though it would doubtless be different now.

Finally, back to Bradman. His dismissal in New York spawned a dubious yarn.

The story goes that Walt Disney took inspiration from the newspaper headlines that followed Bradman’s nought for the name of Mickey Mouse’s cartoon friend Donald Duck.

When there really is an authentic animated Disney cricket story or character – Jiminy aside – we’ll know the sport will truly have made it in America.

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Written by Joseph

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