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Last Updated: Friday, 5 March, 2004, 09:48 GMT
Cricket receives US-style makeover
By Paul Grunill
BBC Sport

The organisers of American Pro Cricket promise "Fast 'n Furious Global Action".

US CRICKET FACTS
Cricket in the USA is about to enter a new era
1. Founding father John Adams was one of the country's first cricketers
2. US team member Nezam Hafiz died in the 11 September atrocities
3. Disney World could host 2007 World Cup matches
4. America's greatest win was against the West Indies in 1888
5. America has only four real cricket pitches

It is an attention-grabbing slogan for a newly formed sporting body in the land of the hard sell.

And for the moment, it is the sum total of the information available on their website.

APC is, however, the latest concept to try and establish foothold for cricket in a sporting market dominated by baseball, gridiron, basketball and ice hockey.

It will be organised along lines common in US sport with eight franchised teams divided into two 'conferences' of four - with each team playing the other three on a home and away basis - and crucially, a TV contract has reportedly been agreed.

And the season will culminate in an All-Star game in August with Las Vegas, the home of high rollers and razzle dazzle, the likely location.

The teams will be based in New York, New Jersey, Washington DC, Florida, Dallas, Chicago, San Francisco and Los Angeles.

The matches will be played using a 20-overs a side format familiar to British fans who last summer gave an enthusiastic welcome to Twenty20 Cricket.

And England and Wales Cricket Board officials, although in the dark about APC, are intrigued by the notion of the concept they invented being transplanted across the Atlantic.

Alex Rodriguez
Cricket is unlikely to lure many fans away from baseball

"If they put some of their flair and investment into promoting the game, that's got to be good for cricket," said ECB Cricket Operations Manager Alan Fordham.

The International Cricket Council is focusing on north America as one of its major development areas.

But the game's world governing body, like the ECB, has had no contact with APC.

"There are quite a few organisations in the USA promoting and developing the game.

"We recognise the United States Cricket Association and do all our development work through that body.

"The USA Cricket Association has a 10-region set-up and they've got 10,000 to 11,000 club cricketers," ICC development manager Matthew Kennedy told BBC Sport.

The big difference is that APC players will be handsomely rewarded for their involvement, with salaries of up to $60,000 being talked about for an entire season.

Up to five overseas players can play for each team and sports agents around the world have ben contacted in the search for high-profile names.

The fruits of APC's labours will be known very soon with a player draft currently taking place.

Former West Indies Test batsman Clayton Lambert
Clayton Lambert is the leading name in the US national team

Each player will be notified which team they have been allocated to next Monday and can then begin the financial haggling with the relevant 'owner'.

The launch of APC is timely, with the national team giving a good account of themselves at the ICC Six Nations Challenge and the prospect of 2007 World Cup games being staged in the USA.

So what might APC have in store?

Perhaps cartoon characters - Donald Duck and the Road Runner - could help with some cricket jargon-busting.

Or how about involving the USA's first family - the Simpsons, not the Bushes?

To help baseball fans taking their first look at cricket, a shot clearing the boundary rope could be "the only Homer that's worth six".

The quality of the cricket on offer remains to be seen.

But one thing looks certain - it won't be dull.




SEE ALSO
Lambert enjoys second coming
02 Mar 04  |  Cricket
Gibbs leads US World Cup hopes
18 Dec 03  |  Cricket
USA makes World Cup bid
18 Dec 03  |  Cricket
Wasim backs US expansion
09 Oct 03  |  Cricket
ICC plans US initiative
01 Jun 03  |  Cricket
Spreading the cricket gospel
13 May 03  |  Cricket


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