I don’t like cricket - I love it

Now as an Englishman and member of the NYCCC I feel I have to make mention of the Gentleman’s sport of cricket whilst we are here in India. I never really grew up a cricket fan as a child, it was not until later in life that I started to appreciate the great sport for the tactical, strategic and psychological battle it is. For me it was the year of Flintoff’s return from ‘injury’ and the England Cricket team claiming back the ashes that elevated the sport to that of a great sport for me! But that’s another story and really just an excuse for a cheap dig at the Aussie’s!

Since I have be traveling to India one is always aware of the love of the sport in this country, last year I was here during the World Cup and the passion and disruption I saw was crazy, its comparable to world cup football for the competing nations, but even at a local level.

This time in traveling around India I got to see even more of the passion at all levels that truly makes you appreciate and understand the importance of the sport in India society and the elevation of Cricketers to gods. During our travels we have had as a backdrop the Indian Premier League (IPL) which is the annual cricket league between all the big clubs. The league has been going for about 6 or 7 years and it has formulated itself into a highly marketable and exciting shortened version of the sport. It has taken the razzamatazz of US sports, with the hype of the European Football, thrown in some PC cheerleaders, added celebrity and wealthy franchise owners mix in some Foreigners and added the Indian cricket Gods and created a masterpiece of live televised sport.

Its been great watching the games when I can catching a new game or two in each location and of course always showing support for the local side which now that I am looked at as ‘Indian’ also goes down well with the locals! Its an amazing experience when a game is on and the local team is playing, most things come to a standstill and fans crowd round TV’s wherever they may be, often in the city center folks crowd round open windows of local bars and restaurants to grab glimpses of the screens inside!

But this is not what has been the best part of experiencing a new aspect of cricket in this country, what has been fantastic to watch is the matches that you find being played by young boys anywhere and everywhere! Dreaming of glory and hoping one day to wear the sacred Indian Cricket Shirt!

Cricket is everywhere and is played everywhere, from the hallowed grounds of the Maiden in central Mumbai to the streets and parks in Delhi, to the beaches of Kerala and even on the banks of the river Ganges, Indian’s never miss an opportunity to play the great sport, it has been great to watch and entertaining for us both as we have wandered this land. As homage to the great sport and the young up and comings I have included a few photographs of some of my favourite cricket moments from our time in India. And who knows we may have been watching the early beginnings of the next Sacchin Tendulkar!