Bollywood actor Suniel Shetty and veteran Indian pacer and cricketing legend Zaheer Khan, along with Jasmeet Bhatia and Mitesh Sharma, on Thursday, announced the launch of Ferit Cricket Bash (FCB).

FCB is India’s first nationwide cricket league for amateur cricketers. FCB will feature 16 teams representing various regions of the country. Registration is open for players who are 15+ years and the best performers will be selected, subject to an intensive 22-city talent search. The league aims to discover the most talented and passionate amateur cricketers from across the country.

After two selection rounds, involving several thousand aspiring cricketers across multiple cities in India, the final 224 players will be divided across 16 teams. These teams, which will be mentored by international cricketers and leading coaches from across India, will then compete with each other in an exciting 15-over-a-side format. Each shortlisted player will receive a participation fee of Rs 1 lakh along with exciting cash rewards for the winning teams. The top 14 performers of FCB will be given a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to represent the FCB All-Stars Team and participate in a local club level tournament in Australia.

The FCB launch ceremony was hosted by Gaurav Kapoor and graced by some of the most iconic names from the game of cricket such as Zaheer Khan, Muttiah Muralitharan, Chris Gayle, and Praveen Kumar. Industrialists Jasmeet Bhatia and Mitesh Sharma, co-founders and promoters of FCB, also stated that a few more international cricketing icons would likely be signed on as mentors for the upcoming season of FCB.

Suniel Shetty said, “Movies and cricket are two unifying factors in our country, and as a sports enthusiast, I am most excited to launch FCB in partnership with Zaheer, Jasmeet, and Mitesh. There is no dearth of passion for cricket in India, and it is almost a religion for us. Even at my age, I look forward to the opportunity of playing a game of cricket regardless of whether it is on a film set or in the lane outside my house. Our endeavour with FCB is to bring young and old ‘ziddi’s’ together on a national scale and let the cricketing fervour take over. Although FCB is for amateur cricketers, the joy and pride of representing your city or state will push you to go that extra mile, and that is the essence of what we are creating here. Cricket is a way of life for a majority of us, and the most passionate ones deserve the chance to know what it feels like to live the game.”

“I started my journey amongst hundreds of other cricket enthusiasts, and most of us had nothing, but our love for the game kept us going. It was the opportunities I had while participating in local tournaments back home that later enabled me to represent my country. Therefore, I most definitely realise the value of an opportunity given to amateur players, especially those with humble beginnings. Many passionate cricketers we’ll encounter during our search may not aspire to become professional players, but at FCB, it won’t stop them from fulfilling their desire of becoming a part of a team, having their names on their jerseys, playing on beautiful grounds across India or having their friends and families rooting for them, while the nation watches. That is the USP of FCB, and I am very proud to be associated with Suniel Anna, Jasmeet and Mitesh. I look forward to encouraging and engaging with India’s most talented cricketers,” Zaheer Khan said.

Tavinderjit Singh Panesar, President of DSport Business, the official broadcasting partner of FCB added, “Cricket is India’s most cherished sport. The heart and dedication that the country’s millions of amateur players show – whether it is in the gullies of Mumbai, or the fields of Punjab – is truly incredible. FCB’s idea of supporting these amateur and talented cricket players in such a meaningful and exciting manner is genuinely brilliant, and we are thus elated to associate with stalwarts like Suniel, Zaheer, Jasmeet and Mitesh for this venture. We are certain that the passion these young men display on and off the field will resonate strongly with audiences across India.”