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USA to stage Asia v Rest of the World

It is being claimed that a three-match Asia v Rest of the World series will be played at Houston between June 16 and 19. The venue, the Houston Astrodome in Texas, is a home of baseball in the USA. The series, which consists of two 45-over games and a final 50-over match, was announced at a press conference in New Delhi by an organisation called Cricket World International (CWI).

In an open letter to the organisers, Ehsan Mani, the ICC's president, was reported as stating that it was "the right time for the USA to become a major participant in international cricket." He continued: "This region represents a virtually untapped source of future players, supporters and commercial partners. The ICC's aim is for cricket to become one of the great and much-loved sports of the Americas in the years to come."

CWI staged the World Double-wicket Championships at the Houston Astrodome three years ago, before that event was switched to the Caribbean. Subsequently CWI was eclipsed locally by Project USA and ProCricket, and seems to have turned its attention elsewhere.

At the press conference, CWI announced that Virender Sehwag, Anil Kumble, Harbhajan Singh, Yuvraj Singh, Irfan Pathan, Mohammad Sami, and Shahid Afridi were already committed to play for the Asia XI in Houston. Former Pakistan vice-captain Yousuf Youhana, incumbent Younis Khan, former captain Rashid Latif, and Shoaib Malik are also set to play. "Talks are on with Sachin Tendulkar, Inzamam-ul Haq, and Shoaib Akhtar also," Hasan Jalil, representing CWI, told reporters.

The World XI will include the West Indian duo of Ricardo Powell and Wavell Hinds, Mahela Jayawardane and Chaminda Vaas from Sri Lanka, New Zealanders Nathan Astle and Chris Harris, retired South African Jonty Rhodes and his compatriot Jacques Kallis, as well as Michael Bevan (Australia), Heath Streak (Zimbabwe), John Davison (Canada) and Steve Massiah (USA).

In the presence of Sheikh Rasheed Ahmad, Pakistan's information and broadcasting minister, who nodded in confirmation, Jalil said, "We have obtained no objection certificates from the cricket boards of India and Pakistan." But Cricinfo contacted the Indian board who told us that it knew nothing about the proposed venture.

And the names on the list of those the organisers claim will be playing also raises questions over how credible this venture might be as Streak and Harbhajan are committed to playing county cricket. There is also the fact that the MCC's Tsunami match against a Rest of the World side at Lord's is scheduled for June 14.