Babar, Kohli as big as LeBron James in terms of popularity, says Plunkett


England’s World Cup champion Liam Plunkett believes cricket stars like Virat Kohli and Babar Azam can boost the sport in the United States during the upcoming 2024 T20 World Cup.

The tournament, which starts on June 1, is being jointly staged by the United States and the West Indies.

The tournament marks a historic moment as the first major international cricket event in the US.

Plunkett noted the high demand for tickets, comparing the popularity of cricket superstars to NBA icon LeBron James. He emphasized the global appeal of cricket and its significance, especially the India-Pakistan rivalry, which attracts more viewers than the NFL Super Bowl.

The upcoming game might showcase an intense showdown between two of the globe’s top-notch batsmen, namely India’s Kohli and Pakistan’s Azam.

“I know it’s hard to get tickets,” Plunkett told AFP in a video call from Philadelphia. “People are asking me for tickets, like I’m Ticketmaster or something. I’ve got nothing to do with it.

“I’m sure there will be a resale value. People are trying to sell it for $1,500 and people are buying the tickets for that, which is crazy to think.

“I said to someone, ‘If you had Babar Azam and Virat Kohli stood next to (NBA star) LeBron James, the queues for the cricketers would be just as long or not longer’. They are so massive around the world.

“People don’t believe that. People in America don’t realise that more people watch India v Pakistan than watch the (NFL) Super Bowl, which is crazy.”

Plunkett, who played in the inaugural Major League Cricket (MLC) last year, sees potential for cricket’s growth in the US. Reflecting on England’s recent cricket performances, he remains optimistic about their prospects in the upcoming T20 World Cup despite challenges.

Plunkett, contemplating his future in cricket, aims to contribute to the sport’s development in the US, considering establishing a cricket academy post-retirement. He expresses contentment with his life in the States alongside his wife, highlighting opportunities to support cricket in the community.



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