‘God of cricket’ Sachin Tendulkar optimistic about popularising cricket in America

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SHane Warne and Sachin Tendulkar
SHane Warne and Sachin Tendulkar

The “God of cricket” Sachin Tendulkar who is now eyeing America as the next target in his mission to spread cricket, said he would like to see more Americans picking up cricket bats along with baseball bats. “You’ll only learn things if you give them a try,” said Tendulkar who will lead a ten-day, three-city cricket all-star exhibition tour of the US in November with fellow cricket legend Shane Warne of Australia. “Americans are used to watching baseball, and it’s very similar to that,” he told Time magazine during an interview.

“If Americans can start coming to the stadium, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them following cricket from here on.”
The tour’s impact, Tendulkar said, will be measured by how many it inspires. “I’m not just looking forward to this trip but to my next trip,” he said. “I would like to see how many more people have picked up a cricket bat alongside a baseball bat. Because that means we left an impression behind. That’s something I want to do,” he said.

“America will be curious to see what it’s like to experience the game of cricket,” said Warne. “What’s all the fuss about? Why is it the second most popular game in the world? What’s so special about this game?” Tendulkar and Warne will each captain a team consisting of some of the best international players of the past 35 years, in three matches scheduled to be played in US baseball stadiums.

The tour in partnership with US sports marketing company Leverage Agency will feature Twenty20 matches at New York’s Citi Field on November 7, Houston’s Minute Maid Park on November 11, and Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on November 14.

Pakistan’s legendary Wasim Akram, South Africa’s Shaun Pollock, Brian Lara of Trinidad and Tobago and Mahela Jayawardene of Sri Lanka are among the other all-time greats slated to join the cricket barnstorming tour. Besides hoping to fill up ballparks, the players plan to conduct clinics in each stop to teach Americans about cricket.

The US has pockets of cricket passion in places like New York and Washington, DC, particularly among immigrants from the West Indies and South Asia, Time magazine noted. Estimates have put America’s cricket fan base at 15 million. “People are starving for a big cricket event like this,” Ben Sturner, CEO of Leverage Agency, which is producing the tour, was quoted as saying.

The batting maestro said that since he had retired from international cricket, he was excited about the thought of holding the cricket bat once again. Tendulkar added that he enjoyed playing for the MCC Bicentenary celebrations at Lord’s last year where the idea to for such a series culminated in his mind. The Little Master also said that even though the players will play serious cricket, it would be more about having fun since there was a pressure and responsibility while playing for the country.

When asked whether the likes of Wasim Akram and Allan Donald could still trouble the batsmen with their pace, Sachin said, “I think there are guys who will bowl reasonably sharp. I won’t be surprised if couple of guys go past 140 plus.”

The series featuring some of the games greats will see Sachin’s Blasters lock horns with Shane Warne’s Warriors in three matches scheduled to be played in the United States.

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