Rama Krishna Sangem
After making a strong entry into technology and politics, Indian Americans are about to promote their favorite sports – Cricket – in the US. They have successfully launched Major League Cricket (MLC), a T20 format just like our IPL at a draft (like our auctions) of players event at NASA’s Johnson Space Centre, Huston, Texas in the US on March 19, Sunday. The first season of MLC will be held in the US from July 13 to 30.
With this, world’s richest sports loving country, US, will host the world’s second most watched sport – Cricket. This MLC initiative has been of American Cricket Enterprise (ACE), co-founded by an Indian American – Vijay Srinivasan. He was also the commercial partner of USA Cricket, just like our BCCI. Srinivasan along with a few other friends has worked hard for the last four years to make this MLC a reality.
ACE’s efforts were backed by some other leading Indian Americans Satya Nadella of Microsoft and Shantanu Narayan of Adobe, among others. The MLC is taking off at an estimated 120 million US dollars – around Rs 960 core in India. This figure may look small, but remember, this is the first step of a long journey of league cricket planned in the US by ACE’s Srinivasan and his friends.
Players too from India
MLC is well populated by Indian cricketers and franchise owners. To start with, MLC will have six teams – from Seattle, Washington, Loss Angles, New York, Texas and San Francisco. All these states have considerable number of South Asian (or can we say, Indian Americans?). And what? 4 out of the 6 teams have investments from Indian franchises – Mumbai Indians, Kolkata Knight Riders, Delhi Capitals and Chennai Super Kings.
Naturally, many Indian cricketers will be playing for these MLC teams – Harmeet Singh and Unmukt Chand – were among the early pick ups by Loss Angles Knight Riders. Many more will join soon. A maximum 6 out of 11 players can be foreigners. Of course, leading players from England, Australia and Pakistan too will be on the teams.
Indian American & Indian audience
These MLC matches – 19 in all as of now – will be watched by Indian Americans and Indians, within the US and outside – in India too. The ACE expects at least 45 lakh homes watch cricket in the US. so minimum there will be 90 lakh to 1 crore viewers in the country. Plus, a huge fan following will anyway be there in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
Srinivasan earlier ran Willow TV, a sports channel, in the US and he is convinced that there is good viewership and market for cricket in the US. In the last two years, ACE held two test seasons – Minor League Cricket – MiLC there. Now, MLC will he held at Dallas and North Carolina. From next year, the number of teams will go up from 6- to 20 and more venues. As s leading Indian business daily said, what else can the best launchpad for cricket than NASA?