First professional cricket league formed in US

MUMBAI: The interest levels among Americans in cricket are comparable to our interest in the National Football League (NFL). However that is not stopping American Pro Cricket (ProCricket), the organisation that's formed to promote cricket in the US, from trying to build up awareness around the game in the US.

The organisation has formed the first ever professional cricket league in the US. There will be eight teams and the season starts on 2 July. The matches will air on a thus far unnamed national TV network in the US.

Of course innovations are needed so that the game gets some sort of fan following. One new aspect is three-hour long matches characterised by "Fast n' Furious Global Action". New ProCricket rules include time limits and a version of baseball's Designated Hitter Rule. The aim is to get fast-paced, action-packed matches.

All of this is crucial. The ICC is keen on having the likes of India going to the US for tournaments. In the past India and Pakistan have played in the Sahara Cup in Canada.

Coming back to the league the teams have names like Chicago Tornadoes, Florida Thunder and New Jersey Fire. In order to inject professionalism right way 40 cricketers from India, Australia, England, Pakistan among other cricket playing nations have been signed to ProCricket contracts for the season. There will also be 120 US players.

The international players include Indian off spinner Nikhil Chopra, former batsman Ajay Jadeja, former West Indian pace great Courtney Walsh and English paceman Andy Caddick. The matches will be along the lines of 20/20 cricket which was first adopted by England in order to revive interest in their county cricket. Here only 20 overs are played by each side instead of 50.

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