New Delhi, April 9: Cricket has been a brand ambassador and game changer for India’s bilateral ties with many countries.
India has the largest diaspora population with 18 million Non-Resident Indians (NRI) according to the latest United Nations report. While this population is scattered across many countries around the world, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia, and the US together account for nearly 50 percent of this population.
When the first ball of the 2020 Indian Premier League was thrown in on 19 September, it was only the second time that the big cricket extravaganza had taken place outside of India. The diaspora population seems to crave more cricket in the places where they live.
In the post-Covid era, with different countries having varying Covid-19 protocols and restrictions, traveling for entertainment remains a challenge for many. Hotel quarantine, RT PCR tests and the fear of testing positive in another country continue to be important among travelers who until now were frequent travelers.
“Indians, regardless of where they settle, have cricket in their blood. We are connected with much of the NRI population and we get requests from Indians abroad asking us how they can be a part of cricket leagues,” he said. Kanthi D. Suresh, the editor-in-chief of Powersportz.
Many young Indians living abroad play cricket diligently despite being in a cricket-free environment. It is quite familiar to see Indians in the US renting soccer and baseball fields for their games and practices in indoor batting cages.
Binil, an Indian blue-collar worker who used to work at a parts company in Kuwait for many years, said: “There are about a million Indians in Kuwait and they would love to see international cricketers come to their city, to that they can enjoy world-class action, see their favorite players in the flesh and take their autographs.” Currently, there are only 12 full members of the International Cricket Council (ICC), and all cricket action revolves around these 12 countries. Nearly 100 countries remain associate members, where there is a good interest in cricket but still lack competitive cricket competitions like those enjoyed by full members.
Now, with the ICC firmly defending cricket at the Olympics, it would not be surprising to see IPL-type properties in more destinations around the world.
The aim of promoting T20 leagues in these regions will include initiatives related to cricket, sponsorship, consultancy, broadcast and talent management, and opportunities for diaspora youth for whom cricket comes naturally.
“We are working hard to host and broadcast T20 cricket leagues in destinations with a large Indian diaspora, who miss good international quality cricket where they live,” said Kanthi D Suresh, who is confident it will happen in a very short period from now, with release dates nearing completion.
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— The story has been published from a cable source with no changes to the text.