T20I World Cup 2024: 'Cricket was once a popular sport in US'

Conrad Tribble says match between Pakistan and India on June 9 is the game everyone would be looking at

Faizan Lakhani
US Consul General in Karachi Conrad Tribble speaking to Geo News. — Provided by the reporter

KARACHI: US Consul General in Karachi, Conrad Tribble, is hopeful of cricket becoming more popular in the United States as the country is set to host the ICC T20I World Cup for the first time this year.

Speaking to Geo News Sunday, Tribble highlighted the immense enthusiasm among Americans for the upcoming cricket extravaganza.

"This is the first time we’re hosting an international cricket event like this. It's a fantastic opportunity to showcase cricket in the United States, to showcase the US and sports to a huge audience overseas, including here in Pakistan. We're really excited about it, and I think it will help cricket grow in the US."

Emphasising the unifying power of sports and its ability to bring nations together, Tribble said: “Sports can always play a role in bringing people together. It is one of the easiest and best tools for bringing people together for people-to-people contacts. Everybody's passionate about sport, whether you're Indian, or Pakistani, or West Indian, or American, and you are watching a cricket match for your country, you get excited about it."

Pak-India game

The US diplomat added that the match between Pakistan and India on June 9 in New York is the game everyone would be looking at but he also has his eyes on the game which is to be played before the high-voltage encounter between the sub-continental neighbours.

“Pakistan and India are playing on the 9th in New York, three days before then it's the US and Pakistan playing. So, that's the match that I'm looking at first as the most important match for a US diplomat here in Pakistan. It will be a great event and I'm sure it will be a lot of fun for all of us to be able to watch that,” he said.

“Obviously, India and Pakistan that's like a highlight match for any cricket fan. I think that will be one of the things that the world is looking at. It'll be fantastic will be a huge opportunity for New York. I think the eyes of the world will be upon that match and I think for good reason because that's what you watch sports for, for drama, for excitement for resolution, so it'll be good,” added the consul general.

‘Cricket was once a popular sport in US’

Tribble revealed that cricket was once a popular sport in the US before being taken over by baseball but hoped that with the hosting of the mega event, the game would spread beyond a few communities.

“The US actually has a long history with cricket. People don't necessarily know that cricket was the most popular sport in the country for the first 100 years of our existence. George Washington played cricket, he played wickets but it was cricket. Cricket was the most popular sport up until really the Civil War and baseball kind of took over after that. So, we have a long history of cricket,” he shared.

Citing the example of the development of soccer over the last 40 or 50 years, which was also not a major sport in the United States, Tribble said that he can see cricket following that same trajectory, and becoming one of those sports that has massive appeal across a wide spectrum of society.

“We'll come back with a cricket powerhouse team, if not in this tournament, then soon enough,” he hoped.

'Pakistan going to be a very tough team to beat'

When asked about his personal involvement in the sport, Tribble expressed his growing admiration for cricket, particularly during his time in Pakistan. "I've become a keen follower of cricket, especially here in Pakistan," he admitted.

He also hoped for a good show by the Pakistan team in the T20I World Cup, saying that Pakistan would be an impactful team in the tournament.

“I think Pakistan will be an impact team in the World Cup. I'm a bit of a diplomat so I will refrain from commenting on individual players in the Pakistani team. Obviously, the captain is hugely important. I saw some of them playing in the PSL and I think Pakistan is going to be a very tough team to beat. It will be our first really hard match in the tournament. But I expect I expect Pakistan to go a long way,” the consul general said.

Regarding visa arrangements for fans travelling to the US for the World Cup, Tribble assured that the consulate is facilitating travel efforts. "We're doing everything to help people prepare to travel to the United States," he affirmed.

“We will do the best we can to facilitate as many people as possible to travel to the United States to watch the cricket tournament and for obviously, every other reason that they want to travel,” he said.