'Cricket soaring to new heights worldwide'

Prameyanews English

Published By : Prameya News Bureau | March 15, 2024 IST

WPL

New Delhi, March 15: The most wonderful development in sports, at present, revolves around the game of cricket. Cricket lovers, from the relatively few cricket-playing countries in the world, have now moved to every nook and corner of the globe. It is through these cricket-loving followers that the game is growing and soaring to new heights.

India has become the centre-point of the game's popularity and has now touched and crossed all genders, castes, religions and any other adverse taboos related to it. Cricket has become the focal point on which Indians rich or poor, old or young, from streets to farms, cities to villages have taken it to be the sport to revel in.

Cricket, as one says is a religion in India. This may have been an understatement earlier, but it has soared to such heights to give it a true meaning now.

Red-ball cricket was the sole proprietor of the game, the white-ball brought in a change and now the hard tennis ball has come to stay. The five days of cricket are gradually moving towards a 10 overs affair, one in which one's strength, hand-eye coordination and aggression, play a far greater importance than the skills and technique required earlier.

The television and digital screen has Indian cricket being showcased in all forms of its avatar. The screen had India playing Test cricket against England which they won with style and flair.

The Indian and International women cricketers are playing the popular WPL T20. The last stage of the domestic Ranji Trophy was also in progress and has now been won for the 42nd time by Mumbai.

The Indian actors were playing a serious Celebrity Cricket League amongst themselves. Not to be missed even in their old age, former cricketers are playing the Legends League.

The new entrant that has taken the street players to the stadium in Mumbai has been the Indian Street Players League (ISPL), the T10 tennis-ball cricket league. With Sachin Tendulkar playing and endorsing it, the tournament has sowed the seeds of another form of cricket that could see a huge rise in the popularity of the game. Especially, as it is far safer to play it, rather than facing a hard leather cricket ball.

Tennis ball cricket is not a novel idea, every cricketer and cricket-lover has in his cricket journey been a part of it. In India, it was the cheapest form of the game, in which one required just a ball and a wooden bat to play.

The cricket battles between buildings in Mumbai, streets, villages, and local establishments around India have been as seriously fought as one sees in stadiums in an international match. For it to now transcend into the stadiums around the country will be quite a journey.

The most encouraging and positive movement in the expansion of the game of cricket has recently been seen through women and girls finally getting the platform to play it seriously in India.

The second edition of the Women's Premier League (WPL) in India has been a super success. Unknown and young Indian cricketers are blossoming through it and many more will emerge in the near future.

Women’s cricket around the world is progressing by huge strides and India, one feels, will be the hub of its growth in years to come. The Indian women's cricket stars are now as revered as the men, their popularity is what will drive the young girls of tomorrow into a game that parents earlier had restricted them to do so.

The British, through their world dominance at one time, may have spread, introduced and established cricket where they were present, however, the phenomenal rise that one sees now shows how the royal and wonderful game is now rising on its own.

The popularity of Test cricket and the characteristics it embedded were a strong base for the sport to establish itself. The transformation that has taken place through the shorter version of it, has been phenomenally successful.

The staunch old followers and connoisseurs of cricket may find the change rather concerning. However, as one says, change is inevitable and they will need to change as well. Cricket has found a new lease of life through it and every form of the game seems to have something different to enjoy and relish.

The cricket-playing nations have all established themselves. However, the growth of cricket will come forth from the countries one never imagined would delve into it. The United States of America, the Middle East and Europe are the new serious entrants into the sport. They are all establishing their T20 and T10 leagues.

The Major League cricket tournament in the United States has a few of the richest and most established international companies supporting it. The International League (IL) T20 also endorsed as the DP World ILT20 is a rich cricket tournament sanctioned by the Emirates Cricket Board. Whereas, in Europe, I was privileged to witness the European Cricket League, a T10 tournament, played between 31 European countries.

Cricket is gradually growing and leaping towards becoming a sport that is capturing the interest and hearts of people worldwide.

It has the character, the class and the royal pedigree to grow even further. The World Cup T20 in June 2024 and the Los Angeles Olympics 2028 in the United States will be just the right note to hit, to put cricket into the big league of sport. After all, it was at St. George’s Cricket Ground in New York in 1844 that the first-ever international cricket match was held between the US and Canada.

Cricket truly is soaring to new heights.

(Yajurvindra Singh is a former India cricketer. The views expressed are personal) (IANS)



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