T20 World Cup a party with a purpose, says tournament director
Six Caribbean countries will co-host the tournament along with the US
THE Twenty20 World Cup in June will be an unforgettable party with strong Caribbean flavours that will help plant cricket firmly in the US sporting landscape, tournament director Fawwaz Baksh said.
Six Caribbean countries will co-host the tournament along with the US, a market which cricket’s powerbrokers see as crucial if it is to flourish beyond Commonwealth countries and become a truly global game.
New York, Miami and Dallas will host a combined 16 matches and Baksh is convinced the best way to inject cricket into a packed US sports market is by making the global showpiece a grand party.
“When you pair up West Indies and USA, it’s a recipe for success,” said the Guyanese sports administrator.
“We in the West Indies are known for a great time, we’re known for the party atmosphere. When fans come here and watch the games, they should expect that.
“So come here to watch great cricket, but come here also to have a great experience.”
Demand for tickets has been encouraging.
Since the public ballot was launched last week more than 1.2 million applications from 126 countries were received within the first 48 hours, Baksh said.
That included 900,000 from the US and West Indies.
“Introducing cricket into the US, which is a new market to us, we weren’t quite sure what the response would be,” he added.
“We know there are quite a lot of expats in the US and people from all across the world are interested in cricket.
“But to see this kind of response, it’s very encouraging.”
The ninth edition of the T20 World Cup will be the biggest yet, with the increase to 20 teams from 16 opening up a wider pool of expatriate fans in the US.
Poor attendance figures marred the 50-overs World Cup when it was staged in West Indies in 2007 but Baksh said Caribbean administrators had learned their lesson.
Ticket prices for this year’s tournament start at only $6.
“If you want to introduce the sport in the US, if you want to revitalise cricket in the West Indies, you have to get the fans here,” he said.
“And the only way you can get the fans here is by making tickets attractive, making them accessible.”
The 43-year-old believes the World Cup can set the standard for future global tournaments.
“We all wanted this tournament here, and we all want to capitalise on it,” Baksh said.
“When the tournament is over, people all across the world will say ‘T20 World Cup should only be hosted in the West Indies and the US’.
“That’s our goal and that’s what we’re going to make it.”