Former Australia legspinner Shane Warne has confirmed that he has booked three of the most famous baseball grounds in the United States of America as venues for a series of exhibition T20 matches that will feature retired international players.
Warne said that Wrigley Field in Chicago, the Yankee Stadium in New York and the Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles had been booked as venues for games likely to be held in November. The series in the USA is part of a league planned by Warne and Sachin Tendulkar that aims to hold exhibition matches around the world over a three-and-a-half-year period. The idea, reportedly, is to take matches to places where fans are starved of good quality cricket, and Canada, Singapore, Hong Kong and UAE are also being looked at as venues.
"At this stage we've booked three stadiums, Wrigley Field, Yankee Stadium and Dodger Stadium," Warne told News Ltd. "We're going to have Bollywood-theme nights and it's all shaping up pretty well."
All three baseball venues have also hosted other sporting events, including American football, soccer and ice hockey, and each stadium can host more than 40,000 spectators. Wrigley Field is the home of the Chicago Cubs baseball team, while the Yankee Stadium and the Dodger Stadium are home venues for the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers. The exhibition cricket matches are likely to be scheduled after the end of the 2015 Major League Baseball season in October.
Warne said he and Tendulkar had come up with the idea for promoting the game, inspired by the exhibition basketball team, the Harlem Globetrotters.
"Myself and Sachin had an idea - why not take cricket to America and be the Harlem Globetrotters, go around and do free exhibitions at schools … help grow the game of cricket (in a country where there are already) 45 teams in LA?" Warne said.
According to Warne, 28 players, including Glenn McGrath, Rahul Dravid, Jacques Kallis, Adam Gilchrist, Sourav Ganguly, VVS Laxman, Brian Lara and Wasim Akram, have signed on for the series. He also said the organisers were in talks with the ICC and the USA Cricket Association for their involvement and support.
"We've signed around 28 players who have all said, 'If you and Sachin are doing it, we'd like to do it as well'," Warne said. "We've got all the players you'd want to see from the past 20 years. Part of the all-stars idea is we go around and the people who haven't had the opportunity to see these guys play over the years because they're based in the States can come.
"We've met with the ICC who are very happy to be on board with us so we just want them to be official partners with us. We're speaking with the American Cricket Association to make sure they can help us as well."