Australians sign up with new US Twenty20 league

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Melbourne, Apr. 27 (ANI), Apr.27 (ANI): Former Australian cricketers Jason Gillespie and Damien Martyn will head a group of rebel cricketers to play the American Premier League, the latest international Twenty20 tournament that is gathering momentum in New York City.

Gillespie, the former Australian fast bowler who claimed 259 Test wickets, confirmed to The Age yesterday that he had signed with the private tournament promoted by entrepreneur Jay Mir, the president and chief executive of the American Sports and Entertainment Group.

The unauthorised league is scheduled to start on a converted baseball field in Staten Island in October, and Mir has mostly targeted players who are already frozen out of international cricket on account of their involvement in the Indian Cricket League, which faces an uncertain future.

If the American concept, still in its embryonic stages, goes ahead, Gillespie will represent a Premium World team captained by Martyn, with other players from Australia, New Zealand, England and South Africa in the six-team competition.

"It's not competing with anyone, it's about cricket having some recognition in America, which is great for our sport," said Gillespie, who retired from first-class cricket with South Australia to avoid a clash with Cricket Australia when he signed with the Ahmedebad ICL franchise, and last year was banned from coaching young bowlers at the Centre of Excellence.

"For me, I'm effectively banned anyway from playing any first-class cricket so it (the opposition of the International Cricket Council) doesn't affect me in any way.

"As an Australian who is coming towards the end of his career, I just think it's an exciting opportunity to spread the word in America and have a new experience."

The ICC and Cricket Australia has warned current players against signing with the new American league because, like the ICL, it is unauthorised cricket.

The US, with a big population of expatriates from the subcontinent and the Caribbean and cricket fans reportedly numbering 15 million, looms as cricket's next battleground.

Entrepreneur Jay Mir is in talks with minor-league baseball team, the Staten Island Yankees, for a three-year staging deal. (ANI)

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