Three T20 cricket matches between All-Star teams made up of some of the greatest players in cricket over the past two decades will take place in an unusual setting for the world’s second most popular sport — Major League Baseball stadiums. In fact, the trio of matches will be staged at three of the most iconic MLB parks in the United States.
Former Australia spin bowling great Shane Warne (pictured, right) and India batting legend Sachin Tendulkar (pictured, left) announced Monday that they plan to stage an All-Star “Harlem Globetrotters”-style tour featuring retired cricket greats — and that they are targeting countries where cricket is not among the most popular, mainstream sports, starting with the United States.
Warne, 45, and Tendulkar, 42, said that they have matches booked at three venues — Wrigley Field in Chicago, Yankee Stadium in New York City, and Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles.
A fourth United States match on the exhibition tour, to take place in Las Vegas, has not been finalized but may yet be included.
“We’re going to have Bollywood theme nights and it’s all shaping up pretty well,” Warne said. “Myself and Sachin had an idea – why not take cricket to America and be the Harlem Globetrotters, go around and do free exhibitions at schools, help grow the game of cricket.”
Warne indicated that the cricket events would be targeted largely at expatriate populations in the United States, a country with a South Asian population of 3.4 million, according to 2012 figures.
The “South Asian” demographic includes people from India — who comprise about 80 percent of the U.S. South Asian population — Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka, all cricket-crazy nations, as well as from smaller, neighboring countries.
Warne said that the venture he and Tendulkar will co-manage has already signed contracts with 28 retired cricketing greats. Included on the rosters are such now-legendary players as Australian bowler Glenn McGrath, India batsman VVS Laxman, West Indies record-breaker Brian Lara, and Pakistani pacer Wasim Akram.
“We’ve got all the players you’d want to see from the past 20 years. Part of the All-Stars idea is we go around and the people who haven’t had the opportunity to see these guys play over the years because they’re based in the States can come,” Warne said.
The matches are projected for November of 2015 — though Warne did not say how they might be affected by potentially adverse weather at that time of year in New York and Chicago.
The All-Star tour is a separate venture from the T20 Masters Champions League, a six-team tournament announced earlier in June that will play entirely in the United Arab Emirates starting in February of 2016, and featuring many of the same retired cricket greats on the Warne-Tendulkar All-Star tour of baseball stadiums in America.
[Image: Hamish Blair/Getty Images]