LAUDERHILL — The world’s second most popular sporting event will take center stage in South Florida during Memorial Day weekend.
The “MAQ T20’’ International Cricket Tournament 2008 is a three-day event in which the top present and former Twenty20 All-Star cricketers from all over the world will compete against one another.
The tournament will take place in the new Central Broward Regional Park in Lauderhill.
The Twenty20 is a form of cricket originally introduced in the United Kingdom by England and the Wales Cricket Board (ECB) in 2003. The teams involved have a single inning at bat for a maximum of 20 overs.
The event will be a first on American soil in two areas, as the first international cricket match and as the first match held at a cricket stadium.
The action starts on Friday, May 23 with the Pakistan All Stars facing the World XI All Stars, followed by game two with the Canada All Stars taking on the West Indies All Stars.
Double header action continues on May 24 as the World XI All Stars and the West Indies All Stars will be in action, followed by Canada versus Pakistan.
The third-place and fourth-place teams will play in game five, followed by the championship finals on May 25. Tickets range from $10 for general admission to $20 for reserved seating.
Cricket Council USA Media and Public Relations Vice President Nino DiLoreto said South Florida is one of the perfect places to hold such an event.
“South Florida is one of the most diverse areas in the country,” DiLoreto said. “The market place was a natural for us. We want to introduce cricket into the mainstream U.S.’’
The popularity of the sport in the United States has fallen under the radar for many, but no other nation except England has played it longer.
The first cricket clubs were established in the 1700s.
Cricket is also the sport from which baseball was derived in the 1800s, according to DiLoreto. Official stats have the United States ranked ninth in the world in participation, with over 750 teams and clubs.
“Once you see the game and the excitement of it, you will see why it is so popular,” DiLoreto said.
The Pakistan National Cricket Team comes in as one of the tournament favorites, having won more than 75 percent of its games overall. The team was last year’s runner-up for the inaugural International Cricket Council (ICC) World Twenty20 Championships held in South Africa.
Some of the best players will also be on the field as legend Javed Miandad, who played for the Pakistan national cricket team between 1975 and 1996, will be playing for the Pakistan All Stars. To most within the sport, he is regarded as Pakistan's greatest batsman, and among the top tier athletes in cricket history.
Another one of the world’s best is former captain of the Indian cricket team Mohammad Azharuddin. He was captain of the Indian team for most of the 1990s, and is statistically one of
India’s most successful captains, winning a record 103 matches. Azharuddin will head up the World XI All Stars.
The event will also feature two concerts, titled “A Cricket Night to Remember.’’
For more information log on to www. cricketcouncilusa.com.