World of Sport

Cricket trying to crack America as ‘baseball on steroids’

World of Sport

View photo



Cricket is making a major push to crack the American market with the creation of a star-studded Twenty20 league and a catchy new tagline: "Baseball on steroids".

Given the recent history of America's favourite sport you might be forgiven for thinking that baseball is already baseball on steroids, but the director of Cricket Holdings America, Neil Maxwell, is unrepentant.

"Twenty20 cricket is baseball on steroids," he told The Times. "It's far quicker and there's a lot more activity."

Maxwell also predicted that the element of physicality will work in the ancient game's favour.

"Bowlers are allowed to bowl at your head," he said, "and the fielders field without mitts. Americans are intrigued."

The new league will be modelled on the IPL, with six teams playing a month-long tournament next July. New York and San Francisco are among the likely venues for the first season.

The final details have yet to be ironed out, but the CHA is confident that a myriad of big names can be lured from Australia, South Africa and New Zealand during the southern hemisphere off season - raising the intriguing prospect of the likes of Shane Warne or Brett Lee taking part, while Shane Watson, David Warner, Chris Gayle, Kieron Pollard, Shahid Afridi and Kumar Sangakkara have also apparently indicated that they are interested.

Lee seems particularly keen.

"I would love nothing more than to play in front of a packed house in New York," he said. "My bags are packed."

But will it work? Many have pointed out that even football has never been able to truly break into the big time in America - but cricket is to throw everything into the showbiz accoutrements that have become common in Twenty20: think music, cheerleaders and yelling at sixes rather than polite applause for a well-timed forward defensive stroke.

If you think this is beginning to sound less and less like cricket, that's exactly what Maxwell is aiming for.

"It's about promoting an entertainment product," he said. "Almost remove the reference to cricket and create a thing called Twenty20 that competes with movies. Link it with Hollywood and Bollywood and provide all the razzmatazz that goes with it."

In case you're wondering, that noise you hear is the sound of WG Grace spinning in his grave.

View comments (92)