Tendulkar bats, Warne bowls for cricket in America

Sachin Tendulkar and Shane Warne
Sachin Tendulkar and Shane Warne will lead the All-Star teams in the three-match series
©REUTERS / Action Images
 

Many cricket stadiums around the world hold numerous records. The different pitches range from weary to  nasty, from dry as a bone to as flat as a marble floor. Teams have relied on spin, fast bowling and batsmen who have mastered patience.

Now, the idea of taking cricket - the gentleman’s game - to America is an interesting one. In America, basketball is the most followed and played sport with around 26 million participants, followed by baseball with American football also featuring prominently.

The love for these games from Americans is evident. In India, it’s cricket that evokes more nostalgia among fans and is considered as a religion in different parts of the world.

It's not less than a dream to come true, with an idea to bring cricket to America at such a pace, certainly to extend and expand the lucrative sport. We all know cricket is a wonderful game, that it can bridge the gap between communities and countries in worrying times, and as an alien sport it could impress others.

Tahir Ibn Manzoor is a freelance journalist in Indian-occupied Kashmir.

He has featured on Wisden India, Cricket World and The Quint.

He tweets @TahirIbnManzoor

But will it appeal and please the audience, enough to justify three All-star games in the US? Time will tell, but it has enough in three hours to entertain the new crowd and take cricket to new heights.

Legendary Australian leg-spinner Shane Warne is leading Warne’s Warriors and Little Master Sachin Tendulkar is the skipper of Sachin’s Blasters, teaming up in a quest to take cricket to America and make it a global sport. 28 players have signed to play, but to stage cricket at baseball stadium seems pretty cheeky.

The goal is to win over new fans with the shorter version of the game. It will be chilly, players will take to the field with woollen clothes on to teach cricket to an American audience in its own way. Though cricket seems similar to baseball, it will take time draw anything like the same sort of crowds.

This will be the first time in modern times that international cricketers will play in three beautiful baseball stadiums in New York, Los Angeles and then Houston.

America is passionate about sports but will cricket equipment may be seen everywhere sooner or later in the different cities of the country alongside basketball and baseball?

Cricket is considered as the second most popular sport across the globe. It might seem logical to compare baseball with cricket but the laws are different and it is definitely going to take some time. However, the shorter format of matches can help to make a cricket a truly global sport.

According to the United States Cricket Association, there are 32,000 players registered - that compares with 30 million participating in baseball, basketball and soccer.

The first international cricket match in United States was played between Canada and America, at the Saint George ground, in New York, in 1844.

The author of Flannels on the Sward, Jayesh Patel, states that the origin of cricket in the US is to be found in Bristol Connecticut, in the early 1700s, and continued to be played till the 1900s. George Washington - the country’s first president had played cricket with the troops at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, on 4th May, 1778.

The All-Star teams include some of the higehst profile players to ever play cricket from eight different countries such as former Test captains Ricky Ponting (Australia), Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag (India), Brian Lara (West Indies), Wasim Akram (Pakistan), Michael Vaughan (England), Muttiah Muralitharan (Sri Lanka), Shaun Pollock (South Africa) and Daniel Vettori (New Zealand) among others.

Americans love their basketball and baseball, but interestingly their cricket history dates as far back as 1650s, as Patel, who was an active cricketer in his young days, mentions. It also tells us about the Canadian and West Indian history and their links with America.

In 1981, in Hartford, Connecticut, the first Cricket Hall of Fame was established in the world. Sir Vivian Richards, Alvin Kalicharran, Joel Garner, Michael Holding, Andy Roberts of the West Indies, Sunil Gavaskar, Gundappa Viswanath, Bhagwat Chandrasekhar, Syed Abid Ali and Farokh Engineer of India, Gregg Chappell and Kerry Packer (posthumously) of Australia, and Tony Greig of England are the framed players.

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