New York: Legendary batsman Sachin Tendulkar Tendulkar feels cricket might be the second most popular sport in the world but in order to make it a global sport more countries need to play in the game's showpiece event, the ICC World Cup.
Tendulkar, who is here along with Australian spin legend Shane Warne for the inaugural 'Cricket All Stars 2015', a three-city Twenty20 rubber involving retired stars of the game, said the idea behind the series is not only to popularise the game in the US but to globalise it as there is a need to have more countries taking up the sport competitively.
"People have opinions that there should be less teams.
But we need to find a solution and work towards it together to make cricket a global sport and not have just 8-12 countries compete all the time and be happy with that," the Indian cricket legend said here yesterday.
"From the time of the first World Cup in 1975 till now, there are only 9-12 teams that compete for the Cup. If we don't take steps toward that (globalising the sport) it is never going to happen," he said.
'Cricket All Stars 2015' series, mooted by Tendulkar and Warne, will bring together 28 of the biggest names of the game, including former Indian skipper Sourav Ganguly, Virender Sehwag, Sri Lankan spin legend Muttiah Muralitharan, former West Indian captain Brian Lara and former Pakistan pacers Wasim Akram and Shoaib Akhtar.
Just like his batting, Tendulkar responded in elegant fashion to former Australia captain Ian Chappell's recent comments that retirement means the end of a career and people would not want to watch retired players in the Twenty20 exhibition series to be played in New York, Houston and Los Angeles.
Tendulkar said retirement does not mean you never pick up a cricket bat again.
"The reason for stopping cricket is because you cannot be competitive at that level but that does not mean you stop enjoying cricket. This is what we are doing, we are enjoying cricket. Once you retire it does not mean you never pick up a cricket bat again," he said.
Tendulkar said players in the series are picking up the cricket bat for fun and enjoyment and if in the process they inspire thousands others to watch and learn the game, there is nothing wrong with it.
"People will always have opinions, it does not mean it is the right opinion," he said pointing at Chappell's comments.
The first match of the series between Sachin's Blasters and Warne's Warriors will be played in the famed 45,000 seater Citi Field, the home of Major League Baseball's New York Mets.
Tendulkar said while it was not possible to play a long series, the retired players felt it is feasible to play three-four games.
"Why not use that energy and enthusiasm (for the game) in different parts of the world to globalise cricket, get people excited about the game," he said, adding that the players will also be able to interact with spectators which was difficult for them to do during an international game.
When asked through the series whether the players are looking to bring in the IPL format to the US, Warne said their only focus is to make the series a success.
"The feedback has been unbelievable. If this goes well it can be an annual thing and we will come to America all the time," Warne said.
"We have 28 big stars, and we are giving ourselves a chance and are trying to give back to people who love the game of cricket. If that develops into something else and there is a huge demand for it that will be fantastic for all of us who love the game of cricket," the former leg-spinner said.
Warne said he along with Tendulkar know that the Americans are is passionate about sports.
"We always wanted to bring cricket to people who never had the chance to see their players live," he said.
The two players, who visited Facebook headquarters in the city and took questions from fans, said experts have been preparing the pitch for the game for six months in Indianopolis and advanced technology has been used for the drop-in pitch.
Warne said the two teams -- Sachin's Blasters and Warne's Warriors -- will play competitive cricket and neither team will take it easy.
"It is not going to be a friendly match. We will play to win. By no means I'm suggesting that we are going to take it easy. We are here to play competitive cricket and also get youngsters excited about the game," he said.