Sachin Tendulkar, Shane Warne bring cricket to U.S. with All-Star series


NEW YORK – Only a few nights after hosting the final three games of the World Series, Citi Field will again be the site of a stick-and-ball competition. This one, though, will involve overs, unders, wickets and spinners. Headlined by Sachin Tendulkar and Shane Warne—two of the sport’s titans—the Cricket All-Stars series comes to New York on Saturday afternoon, followed by dates in Houston and L.A.

While the tour will surely appeal to the Netherland crowd—that is: expats who connect to their home through cricket—it’s also a hell of a way to expose Americans to a sport with a television audience that routinely eclipses that of the Super Bowl. In town to prep for the Citi Field event, Tendulkar and Warne took time to visit with Sports Illustrated and patiently explain some of the sport’s finer points to a cricket novice.

Jon Wertheim: It’s not often we get cricket played in Major League Baseball Stadiums.

Shane Warne: Sachin and I spoke about this for a while and had an idea about wanting to get all the players together and we thought: What about America?

It’s such a great place to play. Americans are passionate about their sports. We thought it was pretty iconic and a unique concept to get the best players over the last couple decades to have a drop-in pitch in baseball stadiums. The two of us got together and sort of formed this plan. We’re really excited about it. I think people will like the concept, too.

JW: Do you see this as a way to grow cricket here in the U.S. or is the target audience a lot of the expats?

Sachin Tendulkar: I think the standard of playing is going to be something that people really enjoy. Twenty20 (t20) format is such that people get attracted to that no matter whether you’re an ardent cricket follower or not, but it’s gripping. Cricket was played [in the U.S.] but was not maybe appreciated as much because the names were missing. You have 29 world-class cricket players, superstars turning up.

SW: The other thing is when David Beckham came to play, soccer here wasn’t a very big sport. I’m not saying any of us are David Beckham. What I’m saying is when you get the big names, that attracts people, not just expats and cricket lovers. Everyone can see the spectacle. When you get the star power, people get attracted even out of curiosity just to go have a look.

JW: How do you feel about the baseball comparison, that Americans are so quick to make?

SW: I think they’re different sports but there’s still some similarities to them. For instance, some batters for baseball want to hit it out of the park; don’t want to just bunt a ball and get up to first base. In cricket we drop the ball and want to get a single. There are some similarities, even though it’s a completely different game. There’s athleticism in the field. We don’t have a glove. We’ve got bare hands.

JW: Have you tried to play baseball?

SW: I have. I have. I found it a bit hard to hit the ball. Sachin can probably hit it out of the park. I wasn’t a very good hitter.

I did stuff with Bo Jackson with the baseball, showing him things I used to do. He was showing me some things with baseball. When I say strategy and similarities, what they do with baseball is curve ball, slider, fastball, different groups of things. Compared to what I did, which was a spinner….the batters, when I came to bowl, you knew exactly what I was going to bowl. The batters, when they stand there, I’m sure they watch the pitcher’s hand to know what ball is coming. That’s a similar strategy.


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