West Indies are once again contemplating the idea of hosting India in Florida next year after the conclusion of the 50-over World Cup in England. The series will be a part of a long-term strategy to play a minimum of two T20Is in North America every year until 2022.
In 2016, India and West Indies had played two T20Is at Lauderhill, Florida. West Indies had gone on to win the two-match series 1-0. The reigning World T20 champions had won the opener by 1 run before the second game was washed out. The series was very successful as far as the attendance was concerned. The first match had drawn a sellout crowd of 15,000 people.
And Cricket West Indies (CWI) wants to continue to tap the US market for the game.
“There’s full board support as part of our strategic plan over the next five years to bring regular games into the Americas,” CWI CEO Jonny Grave told ESPNcricinfo. “So not always talking about USA, we’re talking about Canada and other parts to try to grow the sport. The whole ICC strategic plan is around growing the game and we’re huge advocates of Associate cricket.
“We want to grow the game. We’re big advocates of playing in the Olympics even though one might argue that’s quite complicated because effectively we’d be playing as the separate sovereign countries of the West Indies – but we don’t have a problem with that,” he added.
Since the USA Cricket Board is yet to be fully ratified, Grave said CWI will seek the ICC’s permission directly to host the matches. The games will likely to start as late as 9pm in Florida in order to accommodate Indian television market. The prime-time start would also help the locals to attend the game.
The last time India and West Indies had played in Florida, the game had started at 10.30 am.
“That would be our aim,” Grave said. “Clearly we have to discuss that with sponsors and broadcast partners, but realistically when you’re playing India in the Caribbean you have to play either very late at night or very early in the day. If you’re playing India, the passion of the India fans, they’ll turn up whether you play at 11am or 9pm at night.”
India will start their 2019 tour with T20Is in Florida. After that, they would visit the Caribbean to play ODIs and Tests. According to the FTP, New Zealand (2020), South Africa (2020) and Pakistan (2021) will also play in the USA while India will visit again in 2022.
The proposed series against India continues CWI’s efforts to make inroads into the largely untapped North American market. Along with international matches, the CWI also host Caribbean Premier League matches in USA. This year too, the tournament returned to USA for the third year in succession. But unlike last season, USA hosted three league games this year compared to last season’s four.