‘It will take time’: ICC and Usman Khawaja on creating US cricket fans

Plus: Inside Prime Video’s launch event in Trinidad and Tobago.

Anurag Dahiya, chief commercial officer at ICC, has told Mediaweek the cricketing body plans to not only draw in American audiences, but keep them, as the World Cup is played in the US for the first time ever.

“While the World Cup plays a crucial role in grabbing the attention of fans and potential fans of the market overall, what really counts is what legacy this World Cup will leave in the US,” he said, speaking to Mediaweek in the media boxes at the Brian Lara Cricket Academy in Trinidad and Tobago.

“We have been running something called Creo, which is informal, softball cricket with minimal rules. It’s designed to make our sport more accessible to new fans and we are going to have festivals in Florida, Dallas, and New York.

“The goal is that this World Cup will also inspire kids in school activities. We are partnering with schools to incorporate cricket into their physical education programmes.”

The ICC Men’s T20 World Cup is being played in the West Indies, and the US, with a ground in New York built specifically for the World Cup.

“As we get to the Olympics in LA in 2028, we are aiming to have a million American school kids playing cricket, and we hope to properly kick that off with the World Cup in the US,” Dahlia added.

Announced in October 2023, the men’s and women’s cricket teams will compete for gold at the LA Olympics in 2028 in the T20 format. It’s the first time cricket will be played in an Olympics since the 1900 Olympics in Paris. 

Prime Video World Cup ambassador and player Usman Khawaja told Mediaweek he thinks audiences in America will show up, at least with the big games.

“There’s a lot of cricket coming up in the US. The Major League Cricket (MLC) is straight after this World Cup and there’s a lot of people that watch cricket in America, including expats,” he said.

“I think it will take time though to try to get the next broader audience in America to watch the game. I think it will take time to build around personalities, and I think other documentaries like The Test will help people get insight into what goes on behind closed doors and provide a better understanding on the game.”

Worldwide broadcast partners for the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup

Prime Video held a launch event in Trinidad and Tobago for its coverage of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup, which it has exclusive streaming rights to in Australia.

While the tournament didn’t start until 2 June, the Prime Video team was on the ground in Trinidad and Tobago last week alongside the Australian Men’s Cricket Team, which was gearing up for the tournament.

Some big names such as captain Pat Cummins weren’t present due to commitments at the IPL in India, but Prime Video T20 World Cup ambassador Khawaja was a big part of the launch, leading the tours around various cricket grounds as well as a cricket game at Maracas Beach with some players from the team. 

Press, including Mediaweek, was invited to spend the day with Prime and Khawaja, which started bright and early at Queen’s Park Oval in Port of Spain, the capital of Trinidad and Tobago.

T20 World Cup

Most of the Australian men’s team was present, training ahead of their first match against Oman on 6 June. 

Next up was a tour of the Brian Lara Cricket Academy, one of the biggest grounds in Trinidad and Tobago, where the semi-finals are set to be played at the end of June. 

The day ended with a launch event at Maracas Beach, where Mitchell Marsh, Ashton Agar, Adam Zampa, Nathan Ellis, Tim David and the head of Prime Video Australia and New Zealand Hushidar Kharas were present to usher in the new streaming era for the T20 World Cup in Australia. 

Kharas told Mediaweek that Prime wants to grow cricket in Australia while also growing its audience base.

He also spoke about the streaming service’s outlook on securing audiences for the tournament, amidst the free to air networks’ ongoing anti-siphoning lobbying to keep sports free. 

“I don’t think we’re dragging anyone away,” he said.

“I think it’s a rich media landscape, it’s dynamic, and people can watch things in different places at different times.

“Our worldview or mindset is never that we want to be the only service, we want to be part of a bouquet of services that customers use, and we want to provide value back to them.”

See also: ‘I don’t think we’re dragging anyone away’: How Prime Video is securing T20 World Cup audiences

T20 World Cup

Press was also invited to join a friendly game of beach cricket with some players from the team, with the backdrop of a Caribbean sunset and the T20 World Cup trophy on display, alongside a band playing tropical tunes.

The ICC Men’s T20 World Cup commenced on 1 June internationally and 2 June for Australian fans. Cricket fans across Australia will have exclusive access on Prime Video to all matches in every tournament of ICC competition, including the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup.

To Top