Agarwal Bets on Dallas to Expand U.S. Cricket Popularity

Entrepreneur chairs new National Cricket League, co-owns upcoming local franchise

Cricket is the second most watched sport in the world. Dallas is one of the most robust sports markets in the United States. For Arun Agarwal, that sounds like a no-brainer.

The Preston Hollow entrepreneur and civic leader is the chairman of the new National Cricket League, which will begin play with a tournament in December. One of the flagship franchises, as well as the league’s headquarters, will be in Dallas.

“We have been pitching how to win more sports and teams,” said Agarwal, CEO of the Dallas-based textile company Nextt. “A lot of people have traveled to these countries and seen the fans. It’s like a religion. They talk about this game and come back knowing more about it.”

Details on the structure of the new league and the specifics for the Dallas franchise will be announced later. But after the December debut in Florida, league play will begin sometime next year.

Agarwal said the goal is to tap into the largest cricket-viewing diaspora of any city in the country, while also expanding the fanbase of a sport with traditional strongholds overseas — particularly in India and surrounding countries — and in the Caribbean.

“It’s one religion that unites all of Southeast Asia,” said Agarwal, who played cricket growing up and in college. “You don’t have to be good at the sport to be passionate about it.”

He said economic conditions and the sports climate make the timing ideal for expansion, even on the heels of the launch of Major League Cricket this summer in Grand Prairie.

The NCL will use a more abbreviated, fan-friendly format, even more so than MLC, with games usually lasting around two hours or less. While matches traditionally went on for several days, this pared-down “Sixty Strikes” structure will make its American debut.

“We’re making the speed of the game faster and adding entertainment,” Agarwal said. “We need more action. There will be more excitement. This is just taking it to another level.”

More eyes are opened to the sport now, thanks to the increase of cricket broadcasts available in the United States via online platforms, Agarwal said. Awareness will be key for the six-team NCL, which expects to attract top talent from across the globe to fill its rosters.

“There’s a craving for live sports all over the world. How do you bring this sport which is so popular around the world to the largest market in the world?” Agarwal said. “I would take Dallas over any other city to do this.”

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