All-star cricket meant to have fun and inspire others: Tendulkar

New York, Nov 3 (IANS) Joining issue with former Australian captain Ian Chappell, India’s master blaster Sachin Tendulkar says the All-Star 20Twenty Series in America is meant to “have fun and inspire others” as well as globalise the game.

“Once you retire, doesn’t mean you never pick up a cricket bat. You are picking up that bat for fun, and in doing so, if you can inspire thousands, I think there is nothing wrong in it,” he told a press conference here on Monday echoing Australian bowling legend Shane Warne.

“People will always have opinions… doesn’t mean it’s the right opinion,” Tendulkar said ahead of the three match All-Star 20Twenty Series between Sachin’s Blasters and Warne’s Warriors starting Nov 7.

The matches will feature retired greats including Ricky Pointing, Glenn McGrath, Sourav Ganguly, Virender Sehwag, V.V.S. Laxman, Ajit Agarkar, Brian Lara, Wasim Akram, and Muttiah Muralitharan among others.

Asked about Chappell’s criticism of retired cricketers playing in exhibition matches, Tendulkar said: “The reason for stopping cricket is because you cannot be competitive at that level.

“But that doesn’t mean you stop enjoying playing cricket, and this is what we are doing, we are enjoying cricket,” he said, adding the idea behind the all-star match is to “have fun and inspire others”.

He also shared his disappointment over those who are not in favour of “globalising the game”, something they are trying to achieve through the all-star league.

“When I said that we should have more teams competing (in international cricket), people again had opinions that there should be less (number of) teams,” Tendulkar said.

“But we need to find a solution and work towards it together to make cricket a global sport and not just limit to eight or nine countries and be happy with it,” he said.

Acknowledging the limitations of the retired players, Tendulkar said: “I know to play a long series is not possible but playing three to four games is definitely possible for retired cricketers so why not use that enthusiasm in different parts of the world to globalise cricket and get people excited about cricket.”

Unlike international games, where there is more at stake, these exhibition matches, he suggested, will be “a great way to interact with spectators”.

Not someone to take even the exhibition matches lightly, Tendulkar quickly added that “by no means I suggest that we are going to take it easy, neither is he (Warne) going to take it easy. We are here to play competitive cricket”.

Asked about their vision behind playing the exhibition matches, and organizing community clinics where youngsters will get guidance from some of the finest cricketers, Warne said it is “to inspire” the younger generation and “to engage” the non-cricket lovers.

“For us, here, it’s about trying to inspire people to play as much as giving back,” he said noting: “Countries where cricket is played, ICC has invested in infrastructure, and introduced programmes in schools.”

“If we continue to do community clinics and generate interest, ICC will have to place some sort of infrastructure here like starting school programmes or spend more money for grassroots cricket and this can go long way,” Warne said.

The matches will be played at City Fields, New York, November 7; Minute Maid Park, Houston, November 11; and Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles, November 14.

These exhibition matches will be complete entertainment package with galas, meet-and-greets, community clinics, fireworks in Houston during Diwali – a festive celebration for cricket fans.

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