There is quite a buzz surrounding the ‘All-Stars Twenty20’ league that commences on Saturday. The ambitious project conceptualised by the cricket legends Sachin Tendulkar and Shane Warne takes its first step towards the globalisation of the game as the first venue for the league has rightly been chosen as the United States of America (USA). It is an apt venue because even though the country has a huge base of the South Asian Diaspora, the game of cricket hasn’t found a place there as yet.

It is no secret that the people from the Indian sub-continent are the largest consumers of the game. There’s as much of fan frenzy for cricket in the countries like India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh as much in the USA among expats from these countries. The only major difference however has been their deprivation from the live cricket action. Just think of it, a guy who has turned 25 this year, has probably never seen the likes of Tendulkar, Warne and other greats in flesh and blood. An entire generation of cricket fans in the USA has grown up watching them play either on Television or on the Internet.

Catching up with a New Jersey-based Indian expat Shuvankar — who works in the IT field — over a phone call gives us a startling account. “I was 12 when Tendulkar made his debut in 1989 and my budding years were spent in his magic. Then came the Warnes, Gangulys, Akrams and many more. I came to US in 2004 where my two sons were born, and they don’t know who these great men are. It’s not there in the culture. I’ll be cheering for Sachin and they’ll know who these great men are,” says an ecstatic Shuvankar.

Pervez is a young cabbie at Dallas and hails from Sialkot. He confirmed that he will not miss the opportunity to watch his childhood heroes — Akram, Shoaib Akhtar, Saqlain Mushtaq and Virender Sehwag in action after so many years. That’s what it means to these expats.

The whole idea behind the league was exactly the same; to take the game to the people like them. Tendulkar and Warne wanted to take cricket to all those countries where there is a potential and the live action has never reached. And it is not just about the expats, even the local residents — who either aren’t aware about the game or find it too long to be followed patiently — would be the target audience.

Both the legends have also opined on various occasions that they want to see T20 cricket feature at the Olympics. So this may just be the first step in that direction. The road is long, and its future also depends on the kind of response its inaugural edition generates. With the two line-ups boasting of some of game’s best, that hopefully should not be a problem.

The three-match series has plenty of mouth-watering contests on offer; Tendulkar vs Warne, Brian Lara vs Wasim Akram, Sourav Ganguly vs Daniel Vettori, Kumar Sangakkara vs Muttiah Muralitharan, Glenn McGrath vs Matthew Hayden so on and so forth. As a matter of fact, every contest will be excitement-inducing and will be a stuff of legends. There would be the legions of old die-hard fans, licking their lips at the prospect of these contests. And then by the time the series finishes, there will be a new set of young fans, who’d swear by the thrilling matches they saw live in the years to come.

Earlier we had written about how the teams should look like but after the draws this is what the side will look like.

Designed by Sunil Lavate
Designed by Sunil Lavate

Well, now this is some line-up and millions from this part of the world too wouldn’t want to miss this action. They may be slow and have gone  past their prime but with them in action, the TRPs are bound to soar. It all starts 9 pm on Saturday.

(A self-confessed cricket freak, Chinmay Jawalekar is a senior writer with CricLife and CricketCountry. When not writing or following cricket, he loves to read, eat and sleep. He can be followed here @CricfreakTweets.)