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Will Cricket Score Points with Americans?


Pakistan's Asad Shafiq bats as England's Jos Buttler looks on during a Pakistan-England match at Dubai International Stadium, United Arab Emirates on Oct. 22, 2105.

Pakistan's Asad Shafiq bats as England's Jos Buttler looks on during a Pakistan-England match at Dubai International Stadium, United Arab Emirates on Oct. 22, 2105.

Two teams of cricket players will compete in three U.S. cities in November. Organizers hope Americans will learn more about the sport and begin watching it – and even playing it.

The first match will be played Nov. 7 in New York at Citi Field, followed by matches Nov. 11 at Minute Maid Park in Houston, and Nov. 14 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angles.

Two famous cricket stars – Sachin Tendulkar and Shane Warne – will captain the teams, which will include some of the best international players from the past 25 years.

Tendulkar and Warne are known by millions throughout the world, but almost no one in the United States has heard of them.

In 2012 Tendulkar was on the cover of Time magazine, which called him “The God of Cricket” and said he was “the world’s most famous sportsman” and “the world’s best athlete.”

Both Tendulkar and Warne retired from professional cricket in 2013.

Tendulkar recently told the magazine he believes Americans will become fans once they see cricket played.

“You’ll only learn things if you give them a try,” he said. “Americans are used to watching baseball and it’s very similar to that. If Americans can start coming to the stadium, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them” begin to watch cricket.

Warne said he hopes the exhibitions will answer such questions as: “What’s all the fuss about? Why is it the second-most-popular game in the world? What’s so special about this game?”

At the games, players will teach Americans how to play, and spectators will receive small books telling them about the sport.

FILE - Sachin Tendulkar, left, shares a laugh with Shane Warne during a 2004 training session in Bombay.

FILE - Sachin Tendulkar, left, shares a laugh with Shane Warne during a 2004 training session in Bombay.

Second-most popular sport

Football – what Americans call “soccer” – has for many years been the most popular sport in the world. Cricket is the second-most popular sport. From Harare to London to Islamabad, many people follow cricket like a religion. Players gain fame and launch political careers in Pakistan and India.

The International Cricket Council, the sport’s ruling organization, said its website had more than 26 million visitors – the highest ever – during the World Cup world tournament earlier this year. The Council says more than 1.5 billion people watched the World Cup on television.

Cricket officials believe the sport could become more popular in the United States. With an increasing number of immigrants to the country from South Asia, the Caribbean, Australia and New Zealand, cricket is becoming better known. But it still competes with basketball, American football, ice hockey and baseball.

Baseball has ties to cricket

It is believed cricket began in England. The sport is similar to baseball: Both are played with a bat and a ball, for example, and there are batters, outs and pitches. A “pitcher” in baseball is called a “bowler” in cricket.

But baseball and cricket are also very different from one another. In baseball, when the batter hits a home run, they touch all of the bases and return to the team’s bench. In cricket, when a batsman hits a home run they continue to bat until they are “out” or until a set number of pitches are completed. Like baseball, the team that scores the most runs wins the game.

For many years, cricket matches lasted for days. But now, most games are played in one day. In India, the game is sometimes played in just three to four hours. This popular version of the game is known as Twenty20.

That is the version of the game that the two teams will be playing in cities throughout the United States.

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