BLACKCAPS and Sri Lanka Twenty20 Series

( The BLACKCAPS and Sri Lanka will play a three match Twenty20 series in Florida next month to launch a new strategic partnership between USA Cricket and New Zealand Cricket.

Indian property development company, Pearls Infrastructure, is the naming rights sponsor for the matches and the teams will be competing for the Pearls Cup.

The series – the first international cricket matches to be played by full ICC members in the USA – will take place from May 20-23 in Lauderhill, Florida, around 30 miles from Miami.

Cricket is the second most popular sport in the world, only behind football (soccer). With approximately 15-million cricket fans living in the USA, Gladstone Dainty, USA Cricket President, said on behalf of his Board of Directors following USA Cricket’s AGM – “The historic event will provide great exposure for cricket with some of the world’s top players will be on show here. USA Cricket has worked hard to bring this event about and we are very excited about the potential impact of this series for the growth and development of cricket in the United States”.\

USA Cricket CEO, Donald Lockerbie said the three match series has been in the works for some time as part of the new “Destination USA” initiative. Last November an important strategic partnership was also made between New Zealand Cricket and USA Cricket to advance the game in the region.

“We believe that in order to grow the game of cricket in the USA – we need to have the best teams in the world play in our country,” said Lockerbie. “We want to demonstrate to the American public just how exciting the T20 format is. Cricket is already popular here but has lacked major media coverage. This inaugural series is the first step to reverse this situation.”

Lockerbie also pointed out that the last time the sport of cricket made significant history in the United States was in 1844, when the Canada v USA match was the first international sporting event between two nations in world history.

New Zealand Cricket CEO, Justin Vaughan added that NZC has long seen the dynamic potential of cricket in the USA, and made a strategic decision to offer to partner with USA Cricket; “We have the experience and capacity to help develop the game of cricket in the USA. We are looking at ways of helping USA Cricket grow the game both professionally and at the grassroots. This T20 series is the first of many initiatives between our two cricket boards and we envisage the BLACKCAPS playing in the USA on an annual basis.”

Pearls Infrastructure Managing Director, Mr M.L. Sehjpal says the company is excited about its involvement in such a ground-breaking event.

“We are delighted to support the endeavours of USA Cricket and New Zealand Cricket in growing the game in the United States” said Sehjpal. We are an Indian based company, and whilst having international interests we are appealing to Indians through a major common interest and passion, the game of cricket.”

The match series follows on the heels of the ICC World Twenty20 in the West Indies – with the finals in Barbados on 16th May. Sri Lanka made the final of the 2009 event and are expected to perform well again this year. Sri Lanka Cricket Secretary Nishantha Ranatunga said, “Our team and nation is honored to be one of the first two ICC Full Members to be involved in this historic series. We shall bring our finest team possible and look to return home with a great experience in the USA, helping the sport grow swiftly before thousands of American cricket fans.”

The BLACKCAPS were semi-finalists in the 2007 ICC World Twenty20 and made it through to the Super Eight stage of the 2009 event. Their current team includes many of the world’s leading players. Captain Daniel Vettori said, “The BLACKCAPS are really excited about the prospect of playing in Florida. We know the series against Sri Lanka will be a great advertisement for international cricket to US fans”.

The matches will be played at the Central Broward County Regional Park Cricket Stadium – the only ICC approved cricket stadium in North America, in Lauderhill, a suburb of Ft. Lauderdale. The stadium holds up to 20,000 and was completed in November 2007.

Matches are scheduled with the inaugural game set for Thursday night 20th May, and Saturday and Sunday afternoons (22nd-23rd May).

Ticket information and pricing will be announced by USA Cricket shortly on its website

Media Release 23 April 2010 from New Zealand Cricket.