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Watson and Elliot

Aussie greats taking T20 to the US

Caribbean Premier League will wrap up its regular season with six matches in Florida this week

The likes of Shane Watson, Mike Hussey and Chris Gayle need no introductions in cricket-playing countries and while they are unlikely to become household names in the United States anytime soon, they could help raise the sport's profile in a Twenty20 series in Florida this week.

The games are part of the Caribbean Premier League, a six-week long competition featuring six franchises from around the region. Six games are scheduled over four days at the Broward Stadium in suburban Fort Lauderdale.

While cracking the US sporting marketplace is a tough ask for cricket, the Twenty20 format is likely to be the most appealing to potential US fans thanks to explosive batting and a relatively quick game time of around three hours.

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The owners of the CPL hope eventually to add a couple of North American franchises to the series, but right now their attention is on the success of this week's matches.

The Broward Stadium is the only ground in the United States that meets international cricket specifications and organisers say they have invested about $US1.4 million to bring it up to standard including tweaking the floodlights to point at the pitch and erecting big video screens.

They have also brought in experts to ensure the pitch is batting friendly and conducive to high scores.

"The Caribbean is a very small market, so we've always had to be creative and innovative, and we see the US as a long-term play, not a hit-and-run visit," CPL Chief Executive Damien O'Donohoe said.

The schedule will see night matches on Thursday and Friday, with two matches each on Saturday and Sunday beginning at noon to accommodate prime time live television coverage in India.

Organisers said the weekend games are almost sold out, with average crowds of nearly 10,000 expected.

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In addition to Gayle, Hussey and Watson, the games will feature several other big names such as Kieron Pollard, Brendan McCullum and Umar Akmal of Pakistan, while fellow Aussies Adam Zampa and Chris Lynn will also strut their stuff on the US stage.

"I think it will be a great atmosphere based on what happened over the last couple of years when the West Indies played New Zealand (in Central Broward Stadium)," Jamaica Tallawahs captain Gayle said.

"I think that the CPL will bring out a crowd once again and, you know, with the atmosphere that they’ve seen on TV I’m sure they’ll want to experience it for themselves.

"It’s good to be back in Florida and I’m looking forward to playing here again. Hopefully this will be a new beginning for CPL and hopefully it will progress in the years to come.

"And if it can continue next year and keep letting the people in the US get a chance to see it live, then it should be a fantastic thing for the game of cricket in the US as well."

Meg Lanning Steve Smith