Cricket Sparks Local Interest After Atlanta Open T20 Tournament
Written by Ramsey Brown
If you look at global statistics, you will find that cricket is the second most-watched sport in the world, right behind Soccer. This may sound surprising to those in the U.S. because cricket’s reach and interest in the American market has been somewhat limited — that is, up until recently.
Cricket’s popularity in the West is growing rapidly and is on track to becoming a mainstream sport in the USA by 2030, according to usacricket.org. As you may or may not know, cricket has been announced to be part of the next Los Angeles Olympic Games. In addition, the largest cricket competition in the world, the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup, will be co-hosted by the United States in June 2024 for the first time in history.
Such endeavors reflect that the International Cricket Council (ICC), the sport’s highest governing body, is highly interested in expanding into the U.S. and has already begun implementing long-term strategies for the development and enhancement of the sport in our region.
This also proves that there is a growing demand from the U.S.-based audience to consume the sport in person. Currently, Minor League Cricket is the most extensive competition to ever take place in the history of American Cricket — with one of the country’s top franchised MiLC teams based right here in Atlanta, Georgia.
The Atlanta Fire Cricket Team is trailblazing professional cricket in the United States and has successfully landed Atlanta as one of the sport’s top three prospect cities in the entire nation. Since its establishment in 2018, Atlanta Fire has proved to be a reckoning force in the Cricket community, bringing home back-to-back, 2021 MiLC Division Championship and 2022 Conference Championship titles.
The star-studded team has earned notriety and public attention through their outstanding performances. With U.S. National players, Captain Aaron Jones, and Steven Taylor, along with other world-renowned cricketers like Rahkeem Cornwall, Corne Dry, Amila Aponso, Nassir Hossain, and former West Indies wicket-keeper Jahmar Hamilton to acknowledge.
Equally, as exciting behind the scenes, franchise owner Mohammed Tarek and the dedicated Atlanta Fire management team have worked diligently to bring world-class Cricket to Atlanta.
Following this year’s Minor League season, Atlanta Fire hosted the 2nd Annual Atlanta Open T20 Tournament — the largest and most elite cricket competition Georgia has ever seen.
The five-day tournament was held at the Atlanta Cricket Fields in Cumming, Georgia this past October 5th-9th. The Atlanta Open T20 featured 16 premium teams from across the country, all competing for the championship title and a whopping $75k first-place prize money.
Despite the home team Atlanta Fire falling short in the semi-finals, the tournament made history in more than one way. The 2022 Atlanta Open T20 was the first fully ICC-sanctioned tournament to ever be held in Georgia, a significant achievement of recognition in the Cricket community. This allowed the organizers to bring in international Cricket superstars such as Rahkeem Cornwall, Ravi Bopara, Mohammed Irfran, Sharjeel Khan, Nkrummah Bonner, and Fabian Allen to name a few.
Additionally, Atlanta Fire’s very own Rahkeem Cornwall scored a record-breaking 205 runs in 77 deliveries at this year’s Atlanta Open Tournament, the highest-ever individual score in a match in the history of T20 cricket.
Cornwall’s outstanding achievement grabbed international attention and made global headlines featuring in ESPN, BBC, TBS, and many other sports media outlets.
Furthermore, the 2022 Atlanta Open had an international reach of 100,000 viewers in more than 40 different countries over the span of 5 days. The tournament quite literally caught the world’s eye and set the stage for what’s to come in the future of Cricket in America
If there is one U.S. city that is diverse and congenial enough to welcome an anomalous sport like cricket, it’s definitely Atlanta, Georgia. The city’s diverse population and embracing community has shown a growing interest and regard for the sport.
With the advocacy of local officials, lawmakers, school boards, and businesses, the outpour of support has encouraged the advancement of cricket in the Atlanta area.
The Atlanta Cricket Fields located in Forsyth County is the first dedicated seven-field cricket facility in the United States and one of the largest cricket complexes in the country. ACF has largely impacted the sport’s progression in the region with plans to further advance its infrastructure in the near future.
The Johns Creek Cricket Association has also made major strides in promoting and developing the sport here in Georgia. The non-profit focuses on youth development with the ambition to create better athletes and leaders through the sport. Johns Creek hosts the GA High School
Cricket League and is home to the only cricket batting cages in the Southeast, located at Shakerag Park.
Entities like these are helping pave the way for the expansion of cricket, not only in the greater-Atlanta community but in the entire nation.
Currently, cricket is America’s fastest-growing sport and Atlanta is on the cutting edge of this popularity. Whether you are a long-time Cricket fan or new to the sport, be on the lookout for different ways to get involved and support your local hometown cricket team!
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