Baseballs swapped for cricket bats in new talent search

A talent search providing US baseball players with the opportunity to become professional cricketers in India has been launched in Dubai

Details of this venture, which seeks to convert talented US baseball players into professional cricket players in India, were revealed by American sports agent JB Bernstein at the Host Cities summit in Dubai last week.

Bernstein was portrayed by Mad Men star Jon Hamm in the Disney movie Million Dollar Arm. The film told the story of how he helped two Indian javelin throwers, Rinku Singh and Dinesh Kumar Patel, join US baseball team the Pittsburgh Pirates. Bernstein’s new competition, Million Dollar Bat, will see American baseball players vying for the chance to sign to a pro cricket team in India’s IPL league.

In 2008, Singh and Kumar Patel beat 37,000 other competitors to win Million Dollar Arm, Bernstein’s reality TV show that offered as its prize a contract with a Major League Baseball team.

Jon Hamm
The story was made into a Hollywood film, starring Jon Hamm

Speaking at Host Cities, Bernstein said: “Having spoken to a number of professional baseball players and cricketers myself, there is a great deal of crossover between the two sports – especially in terms of hand-eye coordination – and I’m confident we’ll find ourselves a US-born IPL star.”

In 2014, Dubai hosted the first-phase of the IPL, and Bernstein visited Dubai Sports City to view the facilities at the International Cricket Council’s Cricket Academy as a potential location for the training of competitors.

Commenting on the new talent search, Kumar Patel said: “I’m living in India again at the moment and looking forward to welcoming the winner of the Million Dollar Bat next year. It’s a total role reversal and I think fans – baseball and cricket – in the US, India and beyond are going to be watching with real interest to see who makes the cut.” Rinku Singh said: “This new contest gives someone the chance to change their life. I know a few hitters back in the US who will be keen to give it a go.”

I’m confident we’ll find ourselves a US-born IPL star

JB Bernstein, Sports agent

Bernstein’s business partner, Ash Vasudevan, who was also at the Host Cities summit, said: “It’s really exciting. We’re offering someone from the US the rare opportunity to throw themselves into a totally different sport, in an entirely different country, and to go up against the very best in front of a huge audience. Anyone wondering just how big cricket is only needs to look to the immense following the IPL has in India and right across the region. We’re offering an opportunity to be a part of that.”

Bernstein, who managed Barry Bonds, one of the greatest baseball players of all time, for more than a decade, said: “Where better to launch Million Dollar Bat than Dubai, a visionary city connecting east and west and where major events are linked to grassroots programmes to boost participation in new sports.”

Million Dollar Bat will take place in June 2015.