Chocolate and Gold Coins

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Three Views of Cricket in India

View 1.
I am sitting in a wonderfully luxurious hotel suite in Chennai (the Accord Metropolitan) flipping through to channels on the television and really wishing for the day that computers with Internet access become standard in hotel rooms. There’s really nothing I want to watch. A Bollywood song and dance is entertaining for a moment but I surf on.

Then I see a cricket match. I recognize the teams as India and Sri Lanka in their ODI uniforms. “But that series was over weeks ago”, I thought. Then they show a close-up of former coach John Wright. “This must be from years ago.” Then I see that the bowler is Ashish Nehra. Then there is a commercial break and there is an announcement that this was ESPN’s “Glorious India” series. Then I figure it out: this is from the NatWest series in England from three years ago.

I just thought, “how pathetic.” I mean really, how cricket crazy must someone be to sit and watch a match from three years ago that you already know the result?

View 2.
My wife and father-in-law have to run some errands and I tag along. We stop in a travel agency to pick up some tickets for a flight to Kerela. There is a little television on in the back and we can hear the audio. It is a test match between India and Sri Lanka. I imagine productivity in India plummets during the World Cup.

View 3.
I am in a car with my family going from Kabini to Mysore, a journey of maybe 100 kilometers (60 miles). It is Sunday and the children are playing cricket. I count the matches going on. There was one in every village we passed. I counted 10 matches on the way.

I could see that in the small villages, these cricket matches were the biggest form of entertainment and fun around. Life was hard so the cricket was pure joy. And the kids could play too. I saw one budding Tendulkar lace a scorching drive right past the bowler and across the field and across the road just after our car passed. Believe me, that was a solid shot.

I believe the talent in Indian cricket will blossom like anything in the coming years. That is because they will be able to tap the enthusiasm in these village cricketers. At one time, one-third of all the major league baseball shortstops came from a tiny village in the Dominican Republic. Why? - because there was nothing but baseball and sugar cane in that village. There’s nothing but cricket and rice or wheat for most of these Indian village children as well. They might as well dream big dreams because that is one luxury they can afford. And some of those dreams will come true.


  • you might be right.......and interestingly, a lot of the recent talent coming up in cricket are from small towns (which have some facilities and infrastructure, but a lot of enthusiasm) and not the traditional strongholds of larger cities like Bangalore, Mumbai, Chennai, Delhi, Baroda etc...

    And a happy new year to you as well. i'm finally back to regular blogging.

    By Blogger Sunil, at 10:31 AM  

  • Hi Sunil
    Happy New Year and thanks.

    By Blogger Michael Higgins, at 11:18 AM  

  • And with the lack of playgrounds and parks in Indian cities, the future players will be from the villages and small towns.

    And the national game of India is Hockey (field hockey)

    By Anonymous SloganMurugan, at 11:58 PM  

  • nice post... there was a movie IQBAL recently on a deaf-mute boy who dremed of gettng into the Indian cricket team - and does... you see kids playing cricket everywhere in India - even kids from families who canot afford anything else - this I guess is their way of "letting go"...
    incidentaly, I was just reading this post and thinking about it when a colleague told me about how he used to take off the computer UPS during power cuts and connect it to the TV during cricket matches - and watch it for a couple of minutes at a time :) - cricket fever in India is something else...

    By Anonymous charu, at 12:03 AM  

  • Hi SloganMurugan and Charu
    I actually saw the Australian hockey team dine in the Taj Coffee shop in Chennai. I believe the Indian Hockey team finished last in the tournament. I did not see anyone playing field hockey in South India (but that doesn't mean that it doesn't happen).

    Hi Charu: Yes, it seems to be a national obsession. There were actually two channels that were showing old cricket matches. I don't understand that. That's like reading last month's news.

    By Blogger Michael Higgins, at 6:55 AM  

  • Michael,
    As far as I have observed, the re-telecast matches are always those in which India won. So a better analogy to explain this (rather than the old-news one ) might be a movie with a happy ending. Maybe that's why people like to watch these old matches.

    By Anonymous Srikanth, at 8:03 AM  

  • Hi Srikanth
    Well, it is like a movie with a happy ending. But sports is compelling entertainment precisely because it isn't scripted - it is spontaneous and it is unpredictable. Rebroadcasts of old games that India won is not really sports - I don't know what it is to tell you the truth.

    By Blogger Michael Higgins, at 12:39 PM  

  • Hi Michael,
    Watching repeat telecast of matches whose result you already know is just for fans to relive those memories again. Why would I not liek to see the '83 world cup final, the Natwest final, the 1999 match Vs SL where Dravid and Ganguly ripped apart the SL attack, series Vs Aus in '98, '01, '03. So many glorious moments why not relive them again if TV offers you that opportunity?

    It's a nice change that many of the current players of the Indian team are coming from small towns and that is good enough reason for kids from villages and small towns to cherish a dream of playing for India. Iqbal( One of the finest film I've seen last year) depicted the same message...

    By Blogger Minal, at 1:22 AM  

  • Cricket has been played in villages since many years. I think what has changed in last decade or so is that village kids can also see international quality cricket and learn from it.

    By Blogger LinkLover, at 9:46 PM  

  • Hi Minal and Linklover
    Minal: I suppose that one might want to watch the 1983 world cup again. But a boring triangular match between India and SL in England 3 years ago? I don't know. I would rather watch Ranji league or something else thats live.

    Linklover: One thing that might have changes is the quality of the equipement. These kids were playing with authetic bats and balls. And yes, it helps that they see the stars on T.V.

    By Blogger Michael Higgins, at 2:50 AM  

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    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:16 PM  

  • you are absolutely right, many of talented persons came from Indian villages only, we have to encourage them....

    By Anonymous Richa Jo, at 8:13 AM  

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