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Border has Twenty20 vision for the United States

Former Australian captain Allan Border has maintained that playing baseball while growing up in Sydney helped him score 11,174 Test runs and become an excellent fielder in the international arena.

That's one of the reasons he is so passionate about growing cricket in the baseball-mad United States.

This summer's three-Test series against the struggling West Indies has already fizzled out, the hapless tourists thrashed by an innings and 212 runs inside three days in Hobart.

That means the Twenty20 format has become more relevant than ever, the fifth version of the Big Bash League starting with the Sydney Thunder hosting cross-town rivals the Sixers on Thursday night.

The Brisbane Heat begins its campaign against the Melbourne Renegades at the Gabba on Saturday night.

The crowd in Brisbane for that clash is expected to more than double the average attendance of 13,049 for the first four days of the first Test between Australia and New Zealand at the same venue last month.

Even the American crowds have shown their interest in the shorter format, close to 30,000 turning up in Houston and Los Angeles, and 36,000 in New York last month to watch Shane Warne and Sachin Tendulkar's T20 All Stars slug it out in iconic baseball stadiums.

Reports even suggested 2024's World T20 Championship could be held in the US.

 

Major League baseball players Los Angeles Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis and Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Patrick Corbin, chat with former Australian cricket captain Allan Border during a visit to Manly Beach in Sydney 2013. Photo: AP Photo/Rob Griffith.
Major League baseball players Los Angeles Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis and Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Patrick Corbin, chat with former Australian cricket captain Allan Border during a visit to Manly Beach in Sydney 2013. Photo: AP Photo/Rob Griffith.

Border said he believed Cricket Australia could do worse than look at expanding into the massive untapped American market.

"A lot of people don't realise, but the second-biggest TV rights market for Cricket Australia is the States," Border told APN.

"After India, it goes the US, then England.

"So there's a huge market there, through mainly (Indian, West Indian, English and Australian) expats.

"I think through Twenty20 cricket you could really capture a bit of the market over there. I think it could be a real winner."

Border himself was a good baseballer for Mosman as a youngster, saying it helped his cross-bat shots, fielding and eye-hand coordination.

He also offered a potential solution to the crisis engulfing modern West Indian cricket, with the once-powerful side slumping to eighth in the world Test rankings.

"The bottom line is they're naturally talented guys, so you've got to get the kids playing," he said.

"You've got to start from scratch again - get back into the schools, the junior development programs.

"It's a difficult one though because all of the islands are separate, with separate governments and currencies."


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