Australia chase a rare treble, cricket eyes toehold in US market

Australia chase a rare treble, cricket eyes toehold in US market

Australia will be aiming to become the first team to possess all three of cricket's global titles at the same time, but a bigger success will be if the T20 World Cup next month can help the game crack a lucrative market in the United States.

Australia won a hat-trick of one-day World Cups between 1999-2007 and, going by their heady success in recent global events, they are close to recreating that 'golden era'.

Under Pat Cummins, they won the World Test Championship title and the one-day World Cup last year - beating a formidable India in both the finals.

The onus is now on Mitchell Marsh to lead Australia to another successful campaign, which would make them the reigning world champions in all three formats of the game.

It is not going to be a cakewalk of course.

India have not won a global trophy in more than a decade despite dominating the business side of the game and coming agonisingly close on two occasions last year itself.

That they run the world's richest T20 league and yet have not won a 20-overs World Cup since the inaugural edition in 2007 does not sit well with the fans.

It could well be the last limited-overs World Cup for captain Rohit Sharma and stalwart Virat Kohli and nothing would please their fans more than watching them do the victory lap on June 29 in Bridgetown.

England's 50-overs title defence fizzled out in India last year and they will do everything they can to prevent another meltdown, which could have serious ramifications on the future of captain Jos Buttler and coach Matthew Mott.

They have gambled on Jofra Archer's fitness despite the speedster's several aborted comeback attempts from back and elbow injuries, while test captain Ben Stokes has opted out.

OTHER CHALLENGERS

Also in the reckoning will be Pakistan, who have brought back Babar Azam as captain of the side and appointed Gary Kirsten as the coach hoping their collaboration will yield a second T20 World Cup title for them.

South Africa will arrive with a bunch of power-hitters but their bowling resources look rather thin, while New Zealand will be determined to shed their 'nearly-man' tag under Kane Williamson's inspiring leadership.

Co-hosts West Indies will also be in the reckoning having handed the coaching reins to Daren Sammy, who led them to both of their T20 World Cup titles.

The ninth edition of the tournament will feature a record 20 teams, including the United States, who will be making their World Cup debut as the co-hosts of the event.

The U.S. will stage 16 matches, including the June 9 India v Pakistan blockbuster at the brand new 34,000-seater Nassau County International Cricket Stadium in Long Island, New York.

There was considerable buzz around the launch of the Major League Cricket in the U.S. last year and the 2028 Los Angeles Games will feature the T20 format for the first time at an Olympics.

A successful organisation of the 20-team jamboree could go a long way in helping cricket gain foothold in a sporting landscape dominated by baseball, basketball, ice hockey and American football. REUTERS

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