Fast n' furious global action - only in the USA
The wait is over. American ProCricket (APC) officially introduced the first-ever professional league of its kind in the United States, unveiling local teams in eight US cities, with the official 2004 season scheduled to begin on Friday, July 2.
ProCricket features a variety of changes to the game which are tailored to the US market. Among the new aspects of the game are three-hour long matches, characterized by "Fast n' Furious Global Action," and new ProCricket rules - including time limits and a version of the Designated Hitter Rule - to yield fast-paced, action-packed matches.
ProCricket teams are initially being launched in eight cities nationwide, with inaugural 2004 sides of Chicago Tornadoes, Florida Thunder (Miami), Los Angeles Unity, New Jersey Fire (Bridgewater), New York Storm, San Francisco Freedom, Texas Arrowheads (Houston) and Washington DC Forward. Matches will be held at Minor League Baseball, college football and professional football stadiums and ballparks.
The organisers claim that as many as 40 professional cricket stars from Australia, England, India, Kenya, Pakistan, South Africa and The West Indies have been signed to play, along with around 120 US-based cricketers.
They also claim that all matches will be shown on television, although the details are, as yet, not available.
"We are excited to bring first class professional cricket to the vast segment of the US sports audience that has been thirsting for the game in this country," said Kal Patel, APC's chairman and commissioner. "There are over 30,000 active top club-level players playing cricket in local amateur leagues throughout the country, another 70,000 recreational weekend cricket warriors and over seven million American fans who currently follow both local U.S. and global cricket action."
The season consists of 24 matches, with two championship-round semi-finals (August 27 and 28) and a final on September 4. Tickets for all first-round games have been set at $6.95.