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Brighton Watambwa (left) during the toss as captain of Belgium against Gilbtrator in 2014.


Global breakaway cricket: Brighton Watambwa backs up his stance



LAST week, former Zimbabwe fast bowler Brighton Watambwa made remarks in this newspaper, laying out his bold take on the current state of affairs that made global headlines in the cricketing world.

Watambwa – who played six Test matches for Zimbabwe in 2001 and 2002 – called for a breakaway competition amidst the reduction in the number of teams in the Cricket World Cup, in an era other major global codes are expanding.

The 46-year-old ex-fast bowler played cricket in the first pro-league attempts in the United States, before going on the captain lowly Belgium.

Following his remarks to The NewsHawks, Watambwa drew our attention to this BBC article, below, which supports his point:

Major League Cricket wants to sign up England’s best players for future editions but its founders have dismissed claims it is a threat to English cricket as “short-sighted”.

The inaugural T20 franchise tournament in the United States starts on Thursday (Friday 01:30 BST) with two England World Cup winners — Liam Plunkett and Jason Roy — involved.

“American sports fans want to see the best in the world. That’s the demand in US professional sports,” MLC co-founder Vijay Srinivasan told BBC Sport.

“They don’t want second-tier talent. They insist on the best. England is fortunate to have some of those with the likes of Ben Stokes, Jonny Bairstow and Harry Brook.”

England opener Roy decided to cancel his incremental white-ball deal with the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) — worth £60 000-£70 000 — to play in MLC, where he could potentially earn £150 000 for the tournament between 13-31 July.

The 32-year-old previously claimed his “priority is England” with a 50-over World Cup in October but a lucrative franchise T20 tournament, and one which runs parallel to the English summer, has been seen as a threat to the England team and county cricket.

Srinivasan insisted that notion was “a little bit short-sighted” and MLC is “not looking to step on anyone’s toes”.

He added: “We want the best in the world to come here and we want to do it in a way that makes sense for the player, makes sense for their national team obligations and so on.

“We need to find a window in the global cricket calendar that makes sense to get the best players.

“I think MLC is bringing a lot of mainstream attention to the sport in the US and that’s going to help the global cricket ecosystem.”

The US men’s national team have not qualified for a major ICC tournament since the 2004 Champions Trophy but will participate in the 2024 T20 World Cup as co-hosts alongside West Indies.

As an associate ICC member, USA Cricket only receives a fraction of the budget full ICC members get, and Srinivasan believes the sizable investment in the sport’s infrastructure by MLC will be a boost to cricket in the country and help drive the national team forward.

This year’s MLC will be played at two grounds — in Texas and North Carolina — but owners of the six franchises are committed to building new stadiums, while the tournament itself will give exposure to a quota of homegrown players.

“One of the things we identified was that cricket in the US is not going to be successful unless the US has a strong cricket team,” added Srinivasan.

“It’s not about putting up a tournament, then coming back 12 months later and doing it again. There has to be something more.

“What we are doing is not building these stadiums to play MLC once a year. We want the US men’s, women’s and U19s teams to be playing in these venues where the best teams in the world come and play against them.

“On the back of it, the US needs a competitive national team. That’s why when the ICC T20 World Cup comes to the US next year we want to make sure the US can compete with

the rest of the world.

“The world of cricket is going through a big transition, but for us MLC is a platform for all things US cricket. We don’t view it in isolation and a standalone thing that is detached. There’s a lot more legs to the stool.” – BBC Africa/ The NewsHawks.