London, Nov.23 : American baseball scouts have started a contest to find the fastest pitcher in India, in an attempt to attract talent, fans and sponsors from the cricket-mad sub-continent.
American baseball scouts have started a contest to find the fastest pitcher in India, in an attempt to attract talent, fans and sponsors from the cricket-mad sub-continent.
Thousands of young cricketers will compete next month for the 50,000 dollar prize plus 12 months' intensive training in San Francisco and a chance to join a Major League team for the 2009 season, reports The Times.
The "Million Dollar Arm Hunt", which begins on December 2, also promises a prize of one million dollars for anyone who pitches three consecutive strikes of more than 95mph (150km/h) in the final on March 9.
The prize money and the idea come from Seven Figures, part of a Florida-based sports management company that represents the baseball star Barry Bonds.
"We noticed the Major League teams were going through tons of pitchers and never finding the talent, so we decided to look outside the country. We surveyed the world . . . and immediately thought of India. Everyone who grew up with a cricket ball in their hand has a chance of translating," the paper quoted Jeff Bernstein, of Seven Figures, as saying.
The competition will begin with a tour of 20 cities, followed by qualifying rounds in Delhi, Bombay, Calcutta, Bangalore, Madras and Chandigarh, and will culminate with the final in Mumbai.
Organisers say that they expect between 20,000 and 50,000 people to compete, and that many more will watch the contest on Zee Sports, one of India's biggest private sports channels.
The competition is the latest evidence of the growing international interest in India's vast and largely untapped pool of sporting talent; there are about 300 million people in the country aged between 15 and 25.
It also reflects India's potential as a source of hundreds of millions fans and billions of pounds in revenue.
Last month a coaching team from Manchester United Soccer Schools visited India for the first time to select 12 youngsters to travel to Britain for a week's training.
Baseball was introduced to India 18 years ago and is played in 42 universities.
The Baseball Federation of India, established in April, is organising the first national championships and sending India's first national team to the World University Baseball Championships in the Czech Republic next year. (ANI)
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