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Cricket brings English-speaking world together (without U.S.)

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As March Madness begins to sap the productivity of U.S. workers, the rest of the English-speaking world has its sights set firmly on the Caribbean. There, England and many of the rest of her erstwhile colonies are squaring off in cricket's World Cup. ESPN doesn't even mention the event.

As in soccer football, cricket's World Cup is an opportunity for desperately poor states like Bangladesh to compete on equal terms with the rich and powerful. This goes a long way towards explaining its popularity. England has lost whatever advantages may have stemmed from inventing the game; its best hope is to make the final eight. The West Indies and Sri Lanka, meanwhile, could conceivably upset the favored Australians.

Despite Cup games being very abbreviated affairs—a blistering eight to ten hours, as against the five days required for the real deal—the game is unlikely to appeal to Americans anytime soon. Given the fanatical devotion the game inspires in countries that are home to a fifth of the world's population, that's a shame. Many have credited a 2004 series of test matches between cricket-mad India and Pakistan with easing a rivalry that, only two years earlier, had threatened to spill into nuclear war. Perhaps, in addition to funding language courses and study abroad, the U.S. government should turn its attention to the cricket grounds. There, the United States can build better relationships with allies and lessen tensions with enemies. After all, sports have been a boon for diplomacy before.

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