Former West Indies batter Chris Gayle at a T20 World Cup promo event.  RANDY BROOKS/AFP via Getty Images

The International Cricket Council (ICC) is looking to June's Men's T20 World Cup to "pique the interest" of American sports fans before cricket makes its Olympic return at Los Angeles 2028.

The tournament, which runs from 1-29 June, will be the first major cricket event staged in the United States which is co-hosting with the West Indies. Despite baseball being the national sport, cricket has grown in popularity in recent years with MI New York winning last year's inaugural Major League Cricket (MLC) title.

The second MLC season begins days after the completion of the Men's T20 World Cup where a record 20 teams will vie for the world crown with England defending the title they won in Australia in November 2022. The three American host venues are the Central Broward Regional Park Stadium in Lauderhill, Florida, Grand Prairie Stadium in Texas, and Nassau Country International Cricket Stadium in East Meadow, New York which this week took delivery of the drop-in pitches to be used during the competition.

Chris Tetley, the ICC's head of events, told AFP, "The fact that a World Cup has come to the US - the largest sports market in the world - that in itself has generated a lot of interest. This is a key stepping stone for the promotion of the game towards 2028 and beyond in terms of providing world-class cricket for the massive existing fanbase that the sport already has in the US.

"We are trying to give them something they haven't had on their doorstep before and maybe pique the interest of the American sports community by telling them that cricket's actually an older sport in the US than baseball."

T20 - the 20-over per side format which was only coined in 2003 - is being used at LA 2028 and, thanks to the Indian Premier League (IPL) and other national franchise leagues, has become easily the most popular form of the game.

Cricket made its sole previous Olympic appearance back in 1900 with Baron Pierre de Coubertin, the pioneer of the modern Olympics, once claiming that cricket had "practically no appeal for those who are not British".

Over the past few decades, cricket has become an Indian obsession with the IPL now one of the most lucrative and watched sporting events on the planet. The sport retains its appeal in traditional strongholds like England, Australia, South Africa and the Indian subcontinent, but Afghanistan has recently ascended to become a thorn in the side of the big nations. Women's cricket also goes from strength to strength with Thailand appearing in the 2020 T20 Women's World Cup.