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EXCLUSIVE | Major League Cricket sets eyes on Indian domestic cricketers to ramp up quality and visibility

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EXCLUSIVE | Major League Cricket sets eyes on Indian domestic cricketers to ramp up quality and visibility

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Bastab K Parida

01/06/2021

Major League Cricket (MLC) agents have their eyes firmly on Indian domestic cricketers to boost the profile among the NRIs in the states and gaining TV popularity in India. SportsCafe has exclusively learnt the same as few domestic cricketers even deciding to sign the lucrative contract.

Despite multiple attempts being made, cricket in the USA has either suffered due to the stereotypes of the game being slow or due to the lack of vision shown by the International Cricket Council. But neither has contributed to the failure of the sport’s growth in the States more than the Indian subcontinent cricket boards. 

As a matter of fact, India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh comprise the highest ground presence in the World and it is people from these three countries who have had the biggest set up in the USA. Even if you cut out both Pakistan and Bangladesh, spreading cricket in the USA comes out as a clear winner in the sense that the richest ethnic group in the USA is still Asian Indians, who earn a median income of $100,547, according to the U.S. Census Bureau Report seven years ago. A clear indication of the same can be found in the All-Star Cricket tournament organized half a decade ago, and India's subsequent Lauderhill adventures to play the Windies.

With Major League Cricket, a tournament conceptualized by American Cricket Enterprises who have acquired 20+ investors is an all-star roster of leading business executives and successful tech entrepreneurs, gaining a much-needed footing, it is only a matter of time before it sees the full discourse coming to reality. CEO of Microsoft, part-owner of Seattle Sounders, Satya Nadella’s love for cricket is as well known as Shah Rukh Khan’s investment firm Red Chillies Entertainment but the figure that stands the course is multi-dimensional. 

The biggest obstacle on the road was about matching time-zones in Asia, but SportsCafe discussed with tournament insiders, they are currently looking at growing the brand in the States. A part of the plan, they want to attract more and more Indian domestic and former cricketers to be a part of the tournament which will give them the much-needed mileage to generate traction. Thereon, they will follow to ramp up TV visibility with backing from Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd's Times Group.

“India boasts some of the best cricketers in the world and we are looking at them to get on board. It is a part of the wide and extensive plan as we want to be the grandest league in the world in terms of popularity while ensuring quality. From Mr. Nadella to Mr. Shantanu Narayen, Shashin Shah, Vijay Shekhar Sharma to Divesh Makan, we have a flurry of Indian investors who are keen to capture the Indian market,” a tournament insider told SportsCafe in an exclusive interview.

The agents have acquired a few of the big names of the T20 market with the likes of Corey Anderson, Kieron Pollard, Andre Russell, Ben Cutting, and Mitchell McClenaghan already slated to join them. With big investors like SRK and Nadella on board, the future can be quantified and there are clear plans in place.

“Look. We don’t have to be just another league. The States are the biggest media market in the world and we want to cash in. We don’t want to be a rebel league but will definitely try to get some of the big names on board. That’s the plan at the moment" the official said.

USA Cricket’s partnership with American Cricket Enterprises (ACE) as its strategic partner for the development of a professional T20 tournament in the USA was a major step in that direction. ACE was backed by Willow TV founders Sameer Mehta and Vijay Srinivasan and India’s Times of India Group principals Satyan Gajwani and Vineet Jain.

The partnership will mainly envision the direction of organizing the T20 franchise league - in America Major League style - as well as making a long-term investment in the US cricket, funding the construction of several international-standard venues in major US cities. This deal speaks volumes about the growing demands of cricket in the USA.

In reality, apart from the 15-million cricket market, there is a huge $71 billion American sports market, which hasn’t gone beyond watching traditional American sports, waiting to be tapped. T20 answers to the call and now if they can get the stream rolling with proper planning, we are looking at a time of real American dominance.

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