By Orin Davidson
The U.S. Open T20 competition could become the biggest ever cricket extravaganza in the United States, based on grandiose expansion plans, beginning with this year’s competition.

Tournament director Jeff Miller. Photo by Shiek Mohamed

Sixteen teams, an increase from 10 in 2009, will battle for a record $25,000 cash first prize and bigger bragging rights  influenced by the introduction of television coverage by foreign and local systems.

According to tournament director Jeff Miller, the Cricket Council of USA owned series will kick off from December 3-5 in South Florida and will feature a foreign invasion of teams from England, Pakistan and Jamaica for the very first time.

UBL, a top first division club from Pakistan will make its debut along with a representative team from the Bradford League in England and another from London. They will match skills with defending champions Washington Chargers, Bedessee Destroyers, Atlanta Eagles and US Tigers, who qualified based on finishing in the last four last year.  The four Regional winners from the preliminary series that comprised the Maq T20 event this year, including New York’s Metropolitan League, and the champions from Atlantic Region, Washington DC and New England, are also included in the 16.  The other United States teams will be selected based on strength of player-composition and it is not an easy task.

Miller said more than 40 applied to make the cut and the phone calls are still pouring in.

A women’s showdown between Tri State Lynx which won the recent CCUSA Women’s Open, and an All Star lineup could also spice up the array of matches, billed for the Broward County Stadium and Brian Piccolo Park.

According to Miller, all of the national men’s team players will be involved for different teams and he is expecting an explosion of action in the game’s shortest and most popular form.

Such is the interest generated, the Caribbean Media Corporation, and Carib Vision TV systems from the West Indies will cover the series which will also be aired on one domestic channel in Florida. The final will be carried live there.

And if this year’s event is considered huge by United States standard, Miller disclosed that the 2011 series will be massive as 32 teams will be in action, battling for a 100 percent increase in prize money of $50,000.