Shane and Sachin,
Please forgive my insolence in daring to speak to you directly, but in light of what’s about to happen, I feel as if you are owed the truth.
First, let me assert my credentials: I belong to a very rare demographic – the adult, American-born-and-raised cricket fan. There may be a few dozen of us in existence, to the best of my knowledge. But being in this demographic group gives me a unique insight that I think allows me to speak on the subject of your All-Stars tour next month.
From the figures I’ve seen, it looks like ticket sales to the three matches have been, let’s say, underwhelming. Considering the prices you are asking for them, this is not entirely surprising. But another factor in our lukewarm response is also the terrible job that’s been done marketing this event to America. I’m sorry, but this has been a classic case of “too little, too late.”
To start with, waiting until just one month before the first match to make the official announcement was a terrible idea. No one, not even you two, could have hoped to have thrown together a decent advertising campaign for such a revolutionary concept and made significant traction in a little over four weeks. Frankly, you needed to have rolled this out over the summer, and to have been selling it nonstop, and hard, since then.
And how have you been selling it? Almost not at all. If I weren’t active on Twitter and Facebook, I might not know anything about the three matches. Oh, Shane, that reminds me. I was online and saw your interview with the national morning program. Just one problem: It was in the wrong country. You should be doing those with every local U.S. television station that’ll have you, not just Channel Nine. But where are you on TV over here, Shane? Not at all. (And don’t say you’re waiting until you’re over here in November. That’s far too late. In fact, it’s probably too late now.)
And how about you, Sachin? I know that in India, you necessarily have to remain aloof, for your own safety, but here in the States, almost no one knows who you are. We need to see you, and hear from you. We need you to tell us why we should pay attention to your tour. Instead all we get is a canned interview and a photo of you in the nets. Why even bother, then? You said you hoped this tour would get Americans to exchange baseball bats for cricket bats, but what are you doing to make that happen?
Honestly, you two, and some of the other players, should have been over here, doing promotional work, months ago. If the travel costs are limiting, then how about something inexpensive, like live videoconferencing with American youth squads? How exciting that would’ve been for them (and their parents), and each event could’ve been locally hyped as free publicity for the tour. But instead, all we get are retweets and Facebook posts.
Also, it should be noted that, if you really wanted to reach American non-fans, you had to know that pricing your tickets the way you did made that a joke. Once the prices were set, you had already narrowed the tour’s market to fanatical expats. That’s fine, but at that point you should’ve stopped pretending that there was a developmental aspect to the tour, especially if you had also decided to do nothing to widely promote the game.
And, by the way: Stop saying that you’re “bringing cricket to America.” We’ve been playing cricket here for three hundred years, thank you very much, and have more recreational players than nearly all of the ICC Test nations do. The USA is Cricinfo’s second-largest consumer of cricket, so yeah, we’ve got cricket.
You know what really gets American cricket fans jacked up? Seeing cricket on free American media, and out in American society in general. If a cricket highlight gets on SportsCenter, we go crazy, because we are desperate for national legitimacy. When Million-Dollar Arm came out, we were buzzing. You know what would’ve been nice along that line? Billboards. Simple billboards. We would’ve been so excited to see a cricket event advertised on a major metropolitan highway. But no, not even that.
Please understand: I’m not a hater. When the whispers started about your plans, I had very high hopes. And I really can’t face the prospect of another North American cricket failure. I just can’t. Maybe that’s why I’m so let down, guys. Your tour had so much potential, especially if you had spent serious time directly engaging with us Americans, and given yourselves a full week between matches to interact with the local communities. Instead, you’ve stayed far away, content to shout at us through social media. Honestly, it’s all just so disappointing.
You know, I was offered the chance to go to New York for your match, all expenses paid, along with an opportunity to meet you, but my heart just wasn’t in it, and I felt like it wouldn’t be fair to accept it. So, I’ll be home in Maryland instead.
Now, with the tour dates almost here, I can only hope that American cricket will not be judged too harshly, and that there might be a next time when, with better planning and execution, a more successful tour might come off. Yep. That’s my dream now.
Good luck and best wishes for your visit to America.
Your American friend,