The USA Men’s National Cricket Team may have had their last 3 matches of a 5 match series with Ireland canceled, but nonetheless, the USA Men’s National Cricket Team made great strides this past Ireland series that they can take with them into the future.
The USA finished the Ireland series with a 188/6 (20) to 162/6 (20) victory, and a 141/7 (20) to 150/10 (18.5) loss for a split trophy in their series, and a tiebreaker edge if you include net run rate.
This is a huge accomplishment for USA Cricket, just in time for their launch of Major League Cricket (MLC) in 2023 and their co-hosting of the 2024 ICC Twenty20 Cricket World Cup, which will be hosted with the West Indies, a national cricket federation, or rather almost an effective confederation, that includes the nations of Anguilla (British Overseas Territory), Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, the British Virgin Islands (British Overseas Territory), Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Montserrat (British Overseas Territory), St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Maarten (Constituent Country part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands), St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, and the US Virgin Islands (USA unincorporated and unorganized territory). The USA is expected to host one-third of the matches, while member nations of the West Indies will host the other two-thirds of the matches.
Prior to the USA defeating Ireland on 22 December 2021, the USA had never defeated a full member of the ICC in any version of cricket. So, this was USA’s first win in any cricketing format over an ICC Full Member Test Playing nation. And, this is quite startling given the fact that the USA and Canada are the two oldest national team cricket playing nations.
Not only that, but prior to the USA hosting Ireland in this series, the USA had never played an ICC Full Member Test Playing nation on home soil in the USA! So, this was the first time the USA would play an ICC Full Member Test Playing nation in the USA.
So it truly was a series of firsts!
A full member of the ICC is one of the twelve nations that play Test Cricket officially, the highest form of cricket that can sometimes take up to five days long. Test Cricket nations include England (England and Wales play together), Ireland (Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland play together), Australia, New Zealand, Pakistan, India, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, the West Indies, South Africa, and Zimbabwe. These are the nations where cricket is fully developed, and are generally the best cricket playing nations, where the sport is most popular as well.
Test Cricket features two innings at bat for each team, and its world championship is the newly created ICC World Test Championship. This World Championship features a combination of tournaments and matches designated to be a part of this, which can last up to three years, such that the current World Championship is taking place, having started in 2021, and lasting until 2023. The USA does not compete in Test Cricket at the moment, following the ending of the second level ICC Intercontinental Cup, a developmental second level world championship for associate members of the ICC with a chance at potential promotion into the Full Member Test Cricket ranks. To become a full member, the ICC invites you in, but this was often after good displays in the Intercontinental Cup, or other tournaments or matches of cricket. For example, Afghanistan and Ireland were invited and became Test Cricket Playing nations and ICC Full Members in 2017. Test Cricket is called First-Class Cricket at the domestic level, and again, is only played by the 12 Full Members at the domestic level, each having their own league. In places such as England, the County Championship is very popular and in each of these 12 nations, the first-class cricket is very prestigious.
Associate Members are the other members of the ICC, as well as the previous term of affiliate members. There are 94 Associate Members, who are considered the nations where cricket is a sport, but where it is not fully developed.
Associate Members and Full Members of the ICC are able to play One Day Internationals (ODI) officially, the form of cricket played at the ICC Cricket World Cup, which is generally completed in a day, and features either 10 outs, 1 inning, or 50 overs at bat each, and generally lasts up to nine hours. All ICC nations are eligible to qualify for the once every four years Cricket World Cup, with the next edition happening in 2023 in India. This form of cricket can stay the same or be slightly modified in terms of their amounts of limited overs at the domestic level, and is referred to as List A Cricket when played domestically. Some List A Cricket leagues have been highly popular, but usually, popularity is reserved for its international variant, which features the most popular competition, the ICC Cricket World Cup. Furthermore, all ICC nations are able to play Twenty20 Cricket officially, and are thus able to compete in the ICC Twenty20 Cricket World Cup, which happens once every two years, with the next edition being held in 2022 in Australia. Twenty20 Cricket features either 10 outs, 1 inning, or 20 overs at bat each, and generally lats up to three hours. This is the form of cricket that is most popular domestically, and is the variant seen in many of the major leagues like the Indian Premier League, Caribbean Premier League, and the Big Bash League. Twenty20 is merely just called a Twenty20 International or T20I when described for international play. There are other forms, but these three are the main forms at the international level. Ten10 Cricket is becoming popular domestically and uses a 10 out, 1 inning, or 10 overs at bat each format for a total duration of around 90 minutes. This is done most popularly in the Abu Dhabi T10 League.
For the USA, right now, their focus is on both ODI and Twenty20 Cricket. As mentioned previously, the USA is starting up a professional cricket league called Major League Cricket (MLC), which will feature around six teams in a single-entity franchise league. Already, their development league of 27 teams across 4 geographical regions of the US, Minor League Cricket (MiLC) started in 2021, won by the Silicon Valley Strikers of the Bay Area. The MiLC is a privately owned franchise model, whereby there was a $250,000 (USD) purse in the inaugural 2021 season, the highest ever in US cricket. The MLC is expected to be even more money! Previously, the only professional cricket that successfully had a season was Pro Cricket, which had one season in 2004. But, with a $1 Billion (USD) partnership between the American Cricket Enterprise (ACE), the ICC, and USA Cricket, the developing cricket nation of the USA is now experiencing not one, but two professional cricket leagues in the plans for 2023! Already, one, the MiLC, is off and started with year two coming up in 2022! These two leagues will be played in the Twenty20 format to ensure peak viewership!
USA Cricket has also received big news that the heavily South Asian populated Dallas-Fort Worth Metropolitan area will be adding in a brand new 15,000 seat cricket stadium in the summer of 2023, called AirHogs Stadium in the suburb of Grand Prairie, Texas. Currently, the USA features one ICC approved stadium for major international competition, Central Broward Park & Broward County Stadium, a 20,000 seat stadium located in the Miami Metropolitan Area, in the suburb of Lauderhill, Florida. However, a few more ovals exist for ICC level play including Leo Magnus Cricket Complex in the Van Nuys neighborhood of Los Angeles, California (a group of four cricket grounds), soon to be ICC approved privately owned, 2,000 seat Smart Choice Moosa Stadium, in the Houston Metropolitan area suburb of Pearland, Texas, newly created and privately owned 15,000 seat Prairie View Cricket Complex in another Houston Suburb called Prairie View, Texas, 2,000 seat Brian Piccolo Park in the Miami suburb of Cooper City, Florida, BPL Cricket Stadium in the Chicago Metropolitan suburb of Bolingbrook, Indianapolis Worlds Sports Park in a rural area of Indianapolis, Indiana, and Church Street Park in the Research Triangle/Raleigh Metropolitan area suburb of Morrisville, North Carolina.
With these recent stadium developments in Texas, there does appear to be healthy competition for claims to being the home of cricket in the USA, but currently, Central Broward Park & Broward County Stadium is truly USA’s home, having hosted this USA-Ireland series, and being the stadium to host many Caribbean Premier League matches and the expected main stadium in the USA to host the 2024 Twenty20 Cricket World Cup. It is the USA’s only ICC approved stadium for all matches, and is the stadium that hosted the USA’s first ODI home series matches and USA’s first ODI victory. However, the Bay Area seems to be the place with the highest level of play, whereas New York City still has the best high school league.
Aside from this administrative news, the important news is still this Irish surprise! In the two match series, the USA played in Twenty20. The USA finished with 1 win, a good win for a nation with a struggling 30th Twenty20 ranking going into this series. Whereas, in ODI, the USA ranks 18th.
The USA’s current form in their prospects for the 2023 ODI World Cup Qualifiers started back in 2018 when the USA finished second in ICC World Cricket League Division Three. From there, the USA earned promotion to the 2019 ICC World Cricket League Division Two, where they finished third. Now, the USA is in the 2019-2023 ICC Cricket World Cup League 2, with Nepal, Scotland, the UAE, Namibia, Oman, and Papua New Guinea. The USA needs to finish top 3, to advance to the 2023 ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier, or have to try for this via the Qualifier Play-off. The top 2 teams from the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier qualify for the 2023 ICC Cricket World Cup. Currently, the USA is third in their League 2 Group, but they have played 7 more matches than the fourth placed team, rendering their position to one of only temporary achievement, at a 7 win 9 loss record. Still, by playing in League 2, the USA gets to play ODI status matches, a special designation to put it into the top 20 of ODI national teams. And, the USA currently has Temporary ODI Status until the end of the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifiers in 2023, when Temporary ODI Status is reassessed.
For the 2022 Twenty20 World Cup, the USA is coming off of a very disappointing failure to Qualify for the 2020 Twenty20 World Cup (which became the 2021 version due to COVID-19 delays), but have started the 2022 Qualifications off perfectly winning the ICC Americas Qualifier by going 6 wins from 6 matches in the final qualifying group, the stage they had automatically qualified for. By finishing top two, the USA secured a position in one of two global qualifying groups, whereby the top 2 teams from each group Qualify for the 2022 Twenty20 Cricket World Cup, in addition to the other 12 already qualified. In the 2024 and after editions, there will be 20 nations that Qualify. The USA are in Group B of the Global Qualifiers and will have to play Hong Kong, Jersey, the Netherlands, Papua New Guinea, Singapore, Uganda, and Zimbabwe. This will be stiff competition for the USA, but their recent results in the Americas Regional Qualifier shows a new determined American team. And, with their win over Ireland, they show they have the potential to defeat any team in this group, including group favorites Zimbabwe. These Qualifiers will take place between 8 and 18 July, 2021. The good news for USA Twenty20 Cricket is that they are already Qualified for the 2024 Twenty20 Cricket World Cup!
The USA has a lot of money going into it for cricket. Part of the reason for this is the influx of a sizable South Asian diaspora, especially in Texas and the Bay Area of California, as well as a continual flow of Caribbean diaspora communities into places like New York City. The USA’s tech industry, as well as its medical industry features lots of South Asian influence, and thus the richest sectors of the USA are heavily interested in cricket, making cricket a very rich and niche sport in the USA. A lot like ice hockey, there seems to be a large amount of dedicated fans to the sport, relative to its amount of regular fans. And, with ICC money also coming into the USA, there is a lot of positives to be seen from the US and their cricket community. This Irish series has only added to the hype around USA Cricket. For Americans, Bowl Season became Bowling Season for a while as they watched their national team perform the best they maybe ever have. And, for the South Asian community and the wider American community as a whole, cricket has really provided a sport in which the South Asian Americans dominate, proving their athletic worth, that is often overlooked as their demographics are not see as much in sports like football, basketball, and baseball. This is great for the economic prospects of the US, as more inclusion often increases more investment at home.
While it is extremely disappointed that the USA Men’s National ODI Team did not get to test out their skills against Ireland, given that the USA has been struggling and it would be especially good for the USA to have gotten top level competition experience, nonetheless, the USA’s Twenty20 team did get this experience and this is what matters most, as their World Cup is more immediate, in 2022.
For American Cricket fans, the goal is really just to see the USA at a World Cup, not in any specific one yet. And, for the casual cricket fan in the USA, they would probably prefer to watch Twenty20 anyway. Plus, with being a co-host of the 2024 edition, the USA needs to be getting better with more and more competition by the day, in order to perform well in front of their home fans, gaining more popularity for the sport of cricket.