In the next 24 hours the Caribbean Premier League will be playing the first of six matches at the Broward Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. This set of matches, the culmination of the group stages of the tournament, will be the first meaningful fixtures played on American soil since the West Indies and New Zealand played a T20 match back in 2012.
Which is good news, and brings cricket back to an area the ICC have heavily invested in as a growth region for the sport. Since the suspension of USACA in 2015, the ICC have basically taken over the running of the sport in the USA, hosting combines to find and coach new and existing players throughout the country, and setting up advisory boards to work on governance issues and write a new constitution. It was their support that helped the CPL land these matches in Florida, and with a number of ICC Americas players on the rosters of the various franchises, this will be the first opportunity in a long time for American fans to watch national players on their home turf.
As usual, USACA provided some comedy moments by attempting to prevent the matches from taking place with a spurious claim that the CPL didn’t receive the correct sanctioning to host the event. Kenwyn Williams, former USACA secretary and village idiot, attempted to file a lawsuit to get the games postponed. This attempt was basically laughed out of court, particularly as Williams has no authority to practice law in Florida. This failure surprised no-one, for Williams has a long list of inept actions from his involvement with USACA, including an infamous social media tirade that revealed his narcissistic personality and paranoid conspiracy theories. Still, having individuals such as this sniffing around the governing body of one of the largest cricket markets on the planet goes some way to explaining how the game has failed to take off in the States, and the lack of high-profile matches that take place on its shores.
Happily, those days are now behind us, with USACA facing complete expulsion from the ICC if they do not sort out their myriad of issues in the next 12 months. Hopefully a new phoenix organisation will rise up from the ashes, taking in the many good people who work tirelessly for the game over there, and rid themselves of the demagogues who currently run the ship.
For now, the CPL games will be the subject of interest. The stadium only has a capacity for 10,000 spectators, which hopefully in the long-run is going to be inadequate to meet demand. As it stands, today’s matches are struggling to sell but the double header on Saturday is virtually sold out, which is encouraging. Best of all is the news that the BCCI and WICB are discussing playing a T2o series in Florida after their current Test series, which would be a massive shot in the arm for the region. I hope that the CPL matches are well attended, exciting matches that are widely discussed and manage to capture the headlines in the local press. This would help the BCCI and WICB sit up and take notice and fingers crossed get their series set up. Wouldn’t it be great to have regular matches set up on the American continent? This has to be the aim moving forward.