Tendulkar and Warne to play T20s in US

Sachin Tendulkar and Shane Warne will play T20 matches in the US in November to popularise the sport.

Sachin Tendulkar and Shane Warne before an IPL game in 2010.   -  R.V. Moorthy

In an effort to popularise cricket in the US, several cricket icons, including master blaster Sachin Tendulkar and spin wizard Shane Warne, will play T20 matches in the US in November. More than two dozen of the world's most famous cricket players will play matches at big-league baseball stadiums like New York’s Citi Field on November 7, Houston’s Minute Maid Park on November 11, and Los Angeles’s Dodgers Stadium on November 14.

“We want to leave an impression behind. That's what we are here for, to entertain people, to leave great memories behind and get them excited about some quality cricket,” Tendulkar was quoted as saying by the Wall Street Journal.

Other players include Pakistan's Wasim Akram, West Indies' Brian Lara, South Africa's Jacques Kallis, England's Michael Vaughan and Sri Lanka's Mahela Jayawardene. Brian Bedol, a sports television executive and investor in the event, called it the “Cricket All-Star Series,” likened it to Pele's arrival in the US in the 1970s, or “if you had LeBron (James) and Michael Jordan doing a tour of Europe for the first time.

“They're past their prime but for the old timers it'll be fun to watch them,” Kumar Balakrishnan, an officer in the Staten Island Cricket Club was quoted as saying.

The event has been organised by Leverage Agency, the sports and entertainment firm. “You're not sitting there for a day or two. It's going to be a fast-paced event with a lot of runs,” said Ben Sturner, its CEO. Three baseball stadiums are being converted into cricket stadiums for this very purpose. With the help of a pitch specialist from New Zealand, the elements of the pitch are being crafted in Indianapolis and will be trucked to the stadiums, the report said.

Warne said that all these games would be highly competitive. “To make history in America playing these cricket games, Sachin and I walking out and tossing the coin in New York at Citi Field will be a pretty epic moment,” he said.