The United States of America is finally set to get the taste of some entertaining cricket as “three or four” matches are being planned for South Florida next year.
The matches will be in Twenty20 format, which will in turn be a part of the Caribbean Premier League T20, a competition similar to IPL in India which is gearing up for its third season and already created a lot of buzz by having Hollywood actor Mark Wahlberg and Bollwood superstar Shah Rukh Khan amongst the franchise owners.
“The plan is for three or four matches in Fort Lauderdale,” Caribbean Premier League CEO Damien O’Donohoe told Reuters in a telephone interview.
O’Donohoe, who hopes to establish a full-time franchise in North America, said next year’s matches would be played at the Central Broward Stadium in Lauderhill, the only internationally certified cricket ground in the United States.
O’Donohoe is confident that the large Caribbean community in south Florida will go in huge numbers to the stadium, which holds around than 10,000 people, but he is also optimistic about the participation of the Americans.
“Americans love watching the best players in the world. If anyone’s in position to give it a shot, we’re best positioned,” he said.
Twenty20 cricket is a fast-paced game, taking only around 3 hours of time and is very much entertaining compared to ODIs and Tests.
In baseball parlance, each team sends down the equivalent of 120 pitches in Twenty20 — or less if the batting team loses all 10 wickets (outs in baseball).Sixes (the equivalent of a home run) are far more common in Twenty20 than homers are in baseball.
The new shortened form of cricket has become wildly popular in cricket-playing countries and the most popular tournament being the Indian Premier League(IPL) where the world’s top T20 players are paid millions, which is similar to other American sporting leagues like NBA(Basketball) and MLB(Baseball).
The Caribbean Twenty20 has six franchises – one each in Jamaica, Trinidad, Barbados, Guyana, St. Lucia and St. Kitts.
The teams mainly comprise a mixture of the best West Indian and overseas players.
Coming to ownerships, Wahlberg has equity in the Barbados Tridents franchise, while Bollywood icon Shah Rukh Khan has just bought the Trinidad and Tobago Red Steel.Scottish actor Gerard Butler owns part of the Jamaica Tallawahs.
This year’s league will run from June 20 until July 26, but O’Donohoe hopes to move the competition to October next year to avoid clashing with the English season, thereby allowing more top internationals to participate.
He has plans for a full-time franchise in North America, with New York, Toronto and south Florida among the leading candidates.
“Next year will be a ‘dip-our-toes-in-the-water’ exercise, but absolutely that is the plan,” said O’Donohoe. “If any form of cricket is going to be successful, it’s going to be Twenty20. We really believe in the product we have.
“We might just have to show Americans that a six is a home run.”,he added.
Lets see how America responds to a relatively new form of entertaining sport.