NRIs in USA and Canada slam ICC for washout in Florida

The general feeling among NRIs in the US is the ICC decision to conceive World Cup T20 matches may have been good as a philosophy but poor in execution

To say that there is a palpable sense of outrage among cricket lovers in the United States of America would be putting it mildly. Every league match scheduled in the ICC T20 World Cup in the US and West Indies is important, just that the way things have panned out has been the worst advertisement for the sport.

What happened at the Nassau International Cricket Stadium on the outskirts of New York is well known, where the drop-in pitch was like a minefield. Yes, that stadium has been dismantled, so typical of the efficiency in the US, where assembling and dismantling a makeshift sporting venue is so methodical.

Given the expansive geographical layout of the USA, from East to West Coast and a large Asian diaspora living there for decades, cricket was supposed to bring joy and pleasure. “New York was still OK, we got to see some cricket, despite the awful pitch, where the bounce was bizarre. Our eyes were on Lauderhill, Florida, where three matches had been slated. Florida is not known for heavy rains in June, but then why blame the weather, the real issue was not being prepared for the worst,” said Aditya, a cricket fan from New Jersey. Aditya was born in NJ, loves Indian cricket and has been following the exploits of the Indian team closely, mostly on television. 

The general feeling among NRIs (non-resident Indians) in the US is the ICC decision to conceive World Cup T20 matches may have been good as a philosophy but poor in execution. “The facilities in the USA are really horrible. That is because cricket is not yet popular and doesn’t generate revenue. Till recently, many of the cricketing items for the game had to be procured and stored by the club renting the facilities. Having said that, Florida, Texas and Pennsylvania have some reasonable facilities but not the supporting equipment,” M. Gopinath told RevSportz from Boston. 

As a cricket freak, Gopinath has followed Team India and all other teams for decades, since the time he left India in the 90s. As an amateur club cricketer in the suburbs of Boston, which also has indoor facilities for cricket and even local matches, the anger of Gopi is understandable. Mind you, he is an American citizen but feels the ICC has just pulled off a heist on cricket fans in the US. “The ICC should have thought about this and worked something out. On the flip side, the USA wasted a lot of money in building a temporary ground (New York) rather than using the money to improve some of the required equipment  and existing facilities,” said Gopi.

His reference was to the lack of covers at the Central Broward Stadium in Lauderhill, Florida, where umpires Richard Kettleborough and Sharfuddoula had little or no work to do on Saturday. There were no covers used and the wet outfield was a danger to players. “You kidding me, no professional player is going to risk his ankle and limbs slipping on a wet surface. This just goes to show, holding the World Cup in the US was a botched gimmick. It may have been good for the ICC from a commercial angle but if cricket had to be promoted in the US, this was a joke,” said S. Ramesh, an NRI who lives in Canada.

Ramesh holds a Canadian passport, and for him, travelling to the US is easy. But then, the tickets sold online had also become a nightmare, where the “black market” has become big news. Prices for the India versus Pakistan match at the Nassau Stadium went big, in US dollars. “I think when venues in India like Bengaluru and even Sri Lanka can host matches, with proper covers, it shows a professional degree of preparation which goes in. I mean, the way Bengaluru’s Chinnaswamy Stadium hosted the crucial IPL 2024 match between Royal Challengers Bengaluru and Chennai Super Kings was the perfect example of how good covers are important. Lauderhill was a joke,” Ramesh told RevSportz. He is happy he did not fly to the US to watch “non-existent” cricket matches.

A few more Indians settled in the US and Canada RevSportz spoke to were upset as well and felt a World Cup cannot be treated so shabbily. The consensus is the hype was massive and at the end, what played out was a charade in the USA. For a sporting superpower nation, hosting big ticket cricket turned out to be a farce. Action now shifts to the West Indies.