Samir Chopra April 23, 2010

The true cricketing wealth of a nation

After three years of the IPL, and several more years of the financial domination of the BCCI, how much richer in cricketing terms is India?
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How much of the BCCI's fortunes have flowed back into local development schemes for cricket? © PA photos
 

India, we are told, is the world's richest cricketing nation. I presume the wealth in question has something to do with its "burgeoning middle-class", the IPL, and something called TRPs. But what of the cricketing wealth in India? How does the Indian balance-sheet stack up on that account?

Years ago, when comparisons between "blue-collar Bankstown boy" Steve Waugh, and "Maharajah Snooty" Sourav Ganguly were common (and invariably unfavorably inclined away from the Indian captain), I was struck by the absurdity of it all. Ganguly might have grown up in a household with hired help (an unimaginable luxury in the Waugh household, I'm sure) but in cricketing terms he was a pauper when it came to Waugh. I do not doubt for a second that Captain Courageous grew up with access to an established, well-organized, cricketing structure, to cricket nets provided by the local council, to high-quality equipment, and all of the rest. And I'm willing to wager good money that Ganguly's access to anything similar was far more attenuated. When it came to cricketing riches, Steve Waugh was the true millionaire.

In 2000, shortly after I moved to Australia, I was asked by an office-mate (and future team-mate) whether I'd like "a net". A few days later, I was staggered to find out that we could just stroll up with a kitbag and lay claim to a pair of cricket nets at the Waverley Oval. We batted and bowled for over an hour, and repeated the process over the next few weeks as the suburban cricket season started up.

There never seemed to be a shortage of cricket nets all over Sydney; access was simple and free. Most city councils featured a large and beautiful oval (Bankstown has one; I saw a limited overs game there between New South Wales and Queensland). When we wanted to get fancy, we booked a net at the SCG (the practice facilities for which featured 12 nets with playing surfaces varying in bounce and pace). (The major cricketing grounds were, of course, comfortable more often than not, and spending a day at them was the furthest thing from an imposition).

My reaction to this cornucopia of cricketing affordances was one of unbridled amazement. Precisely how easy was it in this country to play cricket, to nurture it, to foster its future growth? Very, it seemed to me. Of course, this assessment grossly understates the hard work and the effort put into the creation of such an environment. And it also understates the financial backing for the creation of such cricketing nurseries. Be that as it may, the final evidence was there for all to see. Cricket had been woven into daily life; playing and practicing the game was made easy and pleasurable.

Which finally, brings me back to India. After three years of the IPL, and several more years of the financial domination of the BCCI, how much richer in cricketing terms is India? How much of the BCCI's fortunes have flowed back into local development schemes for cricket? Do we have a cricket net in each major urban neighborhood, or perhaps BCCI-subsidized cricket nets at schools and colleges? I know that space and population constraints in India are severe, and do not allow for a direct comparison with countries like Australia. But I'm still genuinely curious. Besides the attention paid to endeavors like sponsoring the India A tours, or age-group tournaments, will the BCCI ever take a crack at upgrading cricket facilities across the country so that the next generation of cricketers can grow up with ready access to the game?

If and when that happens, the descriptions of the cricketing wealth will ring a little truer and displace the current sensation of watching the relentless accumulation of non-cricketing wealth by a select few. That includes those domestic players lucky enough to be selected for an IPL-paypacket. The fortunes of these players have certainly improved, but that does not diminish the need for the creation of a cricket environment that can nurture the next generation of Indian cricket.

Samir Chopra lives in Brooklyn and teaches Philosophy at the City University of New York. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • kumar on May 15, 2010, 20:33 GMT

    we have a population of over a billion and we cant even produce a fast bowler who can reach speeds of over 150 is outrageous(umesh yadav being the exception)i mean bowlers come and go no one with the intent to win the game or the passion to do so, its like a lottery yay i am in the team now let me fill my bank account first perform well for a few weeks and think that its enough.All we need is one simple rule you wanna be rich bloody well earn it no win no pay

  • Dan on May 15, 2010, 11:36 GMT

    Having such a huge population, the odds are higher that a 'naturally' talented cricketer will emerge through the ranks in India. It is, therefore, a testiment to the resources put into grassroots cricket in Australia that a country with a comparetively small population could produce cricketers that not just compete on the world stage, but were able to dominate for over a decade. You cannot deny that infastructure at the lower levels is essential.

  • srini on May 12, 2010, 21:53 GMT

    Good to see an article finally addressing cricket infrastructure in India, anyone who grew up in India can identify with this and also any kids currently struggling to find space to play

  • shyam on May 5, 2010, 16:49 GMT

    Such a nice article . So nice to read it.I wish BCCI officials atleast share a small portion of IPL wealth with domestic cricket associations and enrich cricketing talent in India. It should be that people bigger states or richer families can pave their way easily to cricket arena. Even the poor should have acces to all these facilties so that genuine talent can be nurtured. Not all money should go to the pockets of Modi's Mallya's ,Ambani's so on and so forth.

  • Anonymous on April 28, 2010, 7:34 GMT

    guys cricket is a great passion in sub continent.but when you are talking about popularity and money ccricket is far behind than baseball or tennis.ipl have been held for only three years.the money will take more time to show its effect.look at dr dy patil stadium.india didnt have a stadium like this 10 years ago except eden.waugh and ganguly both are legends.some comments show disrespect to them both.jamaika now a days have the best athletes but they didnt have the facilities needed.but indeed it is true that you need facilities to keep finding new talents.

  • Akash on April 25, 2010, 10:36 GMT

    agree with faisal's views. unrealistic to think of having the same facilties in India as in Australia due to the huge population. but that can be turned in our favour by providing quality manpower to our budding talents. a very authentic article. need more of these.

  • Paul on April 25, 2010, 10:22 GMT

    Akash - Australia's land mass is 7,686,850 square kilometres. India's is 3,287,590 square kilometres. Australia is therefore 2.33 times bigger than India - not five times as quoted. You should note that around 70% of Australia is uninhabitable desert (unless you are a Aboriginal with bushcraft).

    There might not be many young Tendulkars on the horizon in India but there are no young Warnes on the radar in Australia.

  • Vanchy on April 25, 2010, 7:06 GMT

    BRILLIANT!I am an Indian based in South Africa. Till a year ago used to play regularly in the Durban Leagues. Guess what! We played on Turf wickets, something that only First class cricketers ever get to play in India. The rest of us all play on matting. Nets in India - What is that! To put the South African experience into into perspective we practiced at the Kingsmead indoor nets once a week with access to bowling machines and all of of that. Was it you who wrote about in one of your earlier posts comparing the Kanga league and Sydney leagues about the knowledge and quality of players. I am sure what you have written as answered that query.I have personally known brillinat criketers who never got the opportunity because of a lack of practice facilities near their homes and who moved on, i will reserve for another comment about many cricketers who left the game because of the wheeling and dealing of the cricket administrators. Anyone in India listening:Answer is an EMPTHATIC NO.

  • Amit on April 25, 2010, 4:10 GMT

    Samir, I could relate to what you are saying. Growing up in Bombay, we practically had no space to play and yet we kept playing cricket all the time. Th e only shot we ever played was a straight drive or dil-scoop. The rest never fetched any runs, as the building walls blocked it (or worse when we broke the glass window and were all grounded for a few days) Then I went to my undergrad at IIT kharagpur and access to resource galore. Just about anything from nets to a proper cricket ground dedicated to just one cricket match a time to a cricket kit. Then I came to US, and was stunned to see the facilities here, for just about any sport. I understood, why a billion people would not produce a decent eleven, up until recent years, when money started pouring in, and presumably facilities and incentive at grass root level got better (than before) -Amit

  • Gagan on April 25, 2010, 0:14 GMT

    Nicely written, stopped playing cricket to become what parents wanted. Finally stopped playing even for recreation level for this very infrastructure, never wanted to bowl to senior w/o any oppotunity to bat. I was stuck hard in USA to see tennis/baseball infrastructure. We are still undeveloped nation, some of us who have broken into upper middle class, does not mean we are developed. A lot to be done, when will Indians in power start behaving like they deserve. Thanks again man!

  • kumar on May 15, 2010, 20:33 GMT

    we have a population of over a billion and we cant even produce a fast bowler who can reach speeds of over 150 is outrageous(umesh yadav being the exception)i mean bowlers come and go no one with the intent to win the game or the passion to do so, its like a lottery yay i am in the team now let me fill my bank account first perform well for a few weeks and think that its enough.All we need is one simple rule you wanna be rich bloody well earn it no win no pay

  • Dan on May 15, 2010, 11:36 GMT

    Having such a huge population, the odds are higher that a 'naturally' talented cricketer will emerge through the ranks in India. It is, therefore, a testiment to the resources put into grassroots cricket in Australia that a country with a comparetively small population could produce cricketers that not just compete on the world stage, but were able to dominate for over a decade. You cannot deny that infastructure at the lower levels is essential.

  • srini on May 12, 2010, 21:53 GMT

    Good to see an article finally addressing cricket infrastructure in India, anyone who grew up in India can identify with this and also any kids currently struggling to find space to play

  • shyam on May 5, 2010, 16:49 GMT

    Such a nice article . So nice to read it.I wish BCCI officials atleast share a small portion of IPL wealth with domestic cricket associations and enrich cricketing talent in India. It should be that people bigger states or richer families can pave their way easily to cricket arena. Even the poor should have acces to all these facilties so that genuine talent can be nurtured. Not all money should go to the pockets of Modi's Mallya's ,Ambani's so on and so forth.

  • Anonymous on April 28, 2010, 7:34 GMT

    guys cricket is a great passion in sub continent.but when you are talking about popularity and money ccricket is far behind than baseball or tennis.ipl have been held for only three years.the money will take more time to show its effect.look at dr dy patil stadium.india didnt have a stadium like this 10 years ago except eden.waugh and ganguly both are legends.some comments show disrespect to them both.jamaika now a days have the best athletes but they didnt have the facilities needed.but indeed it is true that you need facilities to keep finding new talents.

  • Akash on April 25, 2010, 10:36 GMT

    agree with faisal's views. unrealistic to think of having the same facilties in India as in Australia due to the huge population. but that can be turned in our favour by providing quality manpower to our budding talents. a very authentic article. need more of these.

  • Paul on April 25, 2010, 10:22 GMT

    Akash - Australia's land mass is 7,686,850 square kilometres. India's is 3,287,590 square kilometres. Australia is therefore 2.33 times bigger than India - not five times as quoted. You should note that around 70% of Australia is uninhabitable desert (unless you are a Aboriginal with bushcraft).

    There might not be many young Tendulkars on the horizon in India but there are no young Warnes on the radar in Australia.

  • Vanchy on April 25, 2010, 7:06 GMT

    BRILLIANT!I am an Indian based in South Africa. Till a year ago used to play regularly in the Durban Leagues. Guess what! We played on Turf wickets, something that only First class cricketers ever get to play in India. The rest of us all play on matting. Nets in India - What is that! To put the South African experience into into perspective we practiced at the Kingsmead indoor nets once a week with access to bowling machines and all of of that. Was it you who wrote about in one of your earlier posts comparing the Kanga league and Sydney leagues about the knowledge and quality of players. I am sure what you have written as answered that query.I have personally known brillinat criketers who never got the opportunity because of a lack of practice facilities near their homes and who moved on, i will reserve for another comment about many cricketers who left the game because of the wheeling and dealing of the cricket administrators. Anyone in India listening:Answer is an EMPTHATIC NO.

  • Amit on April 25, 2010, 4:10 GMT

    Samir, I could relate to what you are saying. Growing up in Bombay, we practically had no space to play and yet we kept playing cricket all the time. Th e only shot we ever played was a straight drive or dil-scoop. The rest never fetched any runs, as the building walls blocked it (or worse when we broke the glass window and were all grounded for a few days) Then I went to my undergrad at IIT kharagpur and access to resource galore. Just about anything from nets to a proper cricket ground dedicated to just one cricket match a time to a cricket kit. Then I came to US, and was stunned to see the facilities here, for just about any sport. I understood, why a billion people would not produce a decent eleven, up until recent years, when money started pouring in, and presumably facilities and incentive at grass root level got better (than before) -Amit

  • Gagan on April 25, 2010, 0:14 GMT

    Nicely written, stopped playing cricket to become what parents wanted. Finally stopped playing even for recreation level for this very infrastructure, never wanted to bowl to senior w/o any oppotunity to bat. I was stuck hard in USA to see tennis/baseball infrastructure. We are still undeveloped nation, some of us who have broken into upper middle class, does not mean we are developed. A lot to be done, when will Indians in power start behaving like they deserve. Thanks again man!

  • Sanket on April 24, 2010, 20:22 GMT

    I cannot understand why some people cannot take criticism properly. Does the Indian bench strength reflect the size of the talent base? Can an India Ranji Team take on an international team on equal terms?

    The population of India is more than double that of all cricketing nations put together. If we are equally blessed with natural talent and our facilities for spotting and grooming talent approach the world average, we must have at least as many quality cricketers as the rest of world put together. Is that true? If not, there is a malaise in the system.

  • Gurjot Singh Ahluwalia on April 24, 2010, 17:18 GMT

    Wonderful to know about the facilities in Australia Samir and now I'm just so jealous. And as far as the BCCI is concerned , its pointless worrying about any of this cuz the money's just going in their pockets. All this will stay a dream forever. So enjoy Australia and how I wish I was there.

  • Ken Barnes on April 24, 2010, 12:23 GMT

    I am a South African who has always been intrigued by the passion of the Indian people for our beloved game and also think that this passion can surely be turned into talent on the field. When I hear that there is 'not enough space'for nets for example, I say 'Balls'- if one takes all the billions that the IPL makes and put it in the right hands , multi-level buildings housing many many floors of nets could easily be built.To my understanding any profits generated by the IPL would be going into individual's pockets and not for the betterment of Indian cricket who should be producing many many more legends than they now do.

  • Rudra on April 24, 2010, 10:20 GMT

    Great Article!!! BCCI needs to look at the way Cricket in the country is heading to. Bad comparison countrywise i must say althouth we Indians follow cricket as religion lack much more in professionalism Stop comparing new age cricketers in India with Tendulkar. Please remember he has invested more than 50% of his life in cricket and others will follow him in fact some players are really good and with time you will get answers who the replacements are for Sachin and Kapil. India is growing tremendously as cricketing superpower and thats something as an Indian I am proud of. Metamorphosis never happens overnight. Need to give some more time for things to happen as New generation is getting ready to wear clothes of Tendulkar, Dravid, kumble and they need time to prove something and they are doing nice job at present Lastly, they are fortunate than Sachin, Dravid to get good facilities compared to these legends of cricket.......Sameer I liked your analysis although so flaws are there...

  • chandu on April 24, 2010, 9:16 GMT

    deepak:Mind your words,careful whom you are insulting,32 tons in 32 countries,get ur facts rgt before you talk

  • Balaji yadhav on April 24, 2010, 7:05 GMT

    It looks like Samir has taken up another topic to say something negative about India,HEY India is the NO 1 RANKED TEAM IN WORLD CRICKET right now so India is doing everything right.EPL is the richest soccer league in the world and why has England has never won the World cup since 1966,infact has never even come close to it whereas Brazil with their inadequate infrastructure and soccer playgrounds on roads are able to produce world cup winners one after another.This is just another article from an Anti Indian blogger who simply cant digest the fact that India is a rich and wealthy country now and spews hatred in his blog.India is unncessarily funding 70% of world cricket Time to stop playing international matches all together By the logic og this blog we can give back more to the community by not playing abroad why give valuable TV revenue to other countries.What about that Samir.WHats your view on that Loser.

  • Akash on April 24, 2010, 6:26 GMT

    Wonderful article Samir! As a cricket lover, nothing would please me more if the movement of talent from the gallis and maidans in India to the first-class and international arena was smoother, but like you said, the space and population constraints in India are such that such hopes despite the BCCI's wealth are bound to remain a pipe-dream. To add a point to your Australia-India comparison, well, Australia is more than 5 times bigger than India, while in a few years Mumbai alone will probably outstrip Australia in terms of population! So, I'd have to say expecting facilities like the ones in Australia over here is a bit unrealistic. But a good thought nevertheless!

  • Arvind on April 24, 2010, 3:42 GMT

    Hm, first you start off comparing Steve Waugh and Saurav Ganguly. I did not understand what you are comparing them about. Nevertheless, you leave that job unfinished and go into comparing the cricket facilities in Australia and India. You also manage to throw in a few punches at the BCCI. I don't understand what the purpose of your article is. If you wrote this just to meet some dealine for writing an article, that I can understand.

  • Satadru Sen on April 23, 2010, 17:42 GMT

    I imagine the reason the BCCI has done nothing for cricket at the grassroots level in India is that its big-shots are too busy helping themselves to the money that top-level cricket generates. (That, and general apathy in municipal governments and school administrations.) Nets? Proper wickets? Equipment? As schoolboys, we played cricket with hockey balls on any available patch of grass or dirt, without protective gear of any kind and no coaching. Some have it slightly better, some have it worse, but those conditions were typical for middle-class Indians in the 1970s and 80s and they haven't improved much as far as I can see. The current crisis in the IPL is, in a way, reflective of everything that's wrong with Indian cricket: it has been devoured by bureaucrats, politicians and robber-baron businessmen while the rest of us were distracted by cheerleaders.

  • Mustafa Rangwala on April 23, 2010, 16:59 GMT

    Ha. Finally someone asking the relevant questions.

  • Faisal Taquie on April 23, 2010, 16:19 GMT

    Great article. But I think to be fair, it is almost impossible to have the same level of facilities in India precisely because of huge population and tremendous passion for the game. Being a Pakistani, I know if such facility was provided, there will be long lines to the nets. What is missing though, really, is probably a more solid structure at schools and colleges with proper coaches, etc. Currently, I premise all these facilities are available at the academies but making good coaching, etc will be tremendous. I don't think nets will ever replace gulli or maidan cricket in the subcontinent. Our passion for the game is much different than AUS, ENG, or RSA.

  • Kamesh on April 23, 2010, 9:36 GMT

    Another articles which sounds snobbish from an Indian cricket fans perspective.Comparing Australia and India and the facilities and the captians, the write has to understand that there is absolutely no iota of comparison between the two countries. Fans, population, culture nothing at all. This looks as another one of those umpteen attempts at calling the grapes sour when you cant eat them. Sorry, Mr. Writer, your thoughts are ill conceivable and utterly ill researched without covering all perspectives.

  • Chinmay on April 23, 2010, 6:46 GMT

    Well, in India; especially in Mumbai, cricket has always been developed and played along the lines of "galli cricket". A bunch of kids arranging scratch matches on their local playgrounds (and, in some cases quiet lanes). I lived in a suburb of Mumbai and the ground where I played usually had about 60-80 kids playing at the same time (population of the locality was, maybe about 1000). It is impossible to cater such a population by nets simply due to non availability of space.

    In most of the big schools of Mumbai (ie, those who participate in Harris shield), you have reasonable cricket facilities. If you join one of the coaching centres of MCA, you have decent facilities too. I don't know how much of that is sponsored by the BCCI, but I doubt Sachin Tendulkar had much problem getting access to cricket facilities in his childhood.

    However, these are all there for dedicated players. I suspect casual players face a hard time (or have to spend some money) to get them.

  • Ramesh on April 23, 2010, 6:18 GMT

    Refreshing post. Let the BCCI turn its attention to protecting and nourishing the golden goose.

  • Mani R.Iyer on April 23, 2010, 6:06 GMT

    Fantastic Article Samir

  • pranesh_csk_india on April 23, 2010, 5:13 GMT

    Nice article! The IPL has made some difference definitely. Almost every franchise has opened up its own academy(remember the controversy when Australia toured India for a 4-test series in Oct 2008? They stayed at the future academy in Jaipur and praised it a lot). Free nets etc.won't work in India, some politician will surely gobble up the allotted money.

  • deepak on April 23, 2010, 3:45 GMT

    steve waugh " a cricketing millionaire "?ask ian chapell he will tell you how a selfish person steve waugh was . he was always obsessed about having average of 50 just like dhoni and always letting the difficult job to do to others(like batting at no 3 for instance)people like him are not cricketing millionaires .also he was one of the ugliest batsman ever seen .batsman like him cannot be given the tag of "cricketing millionaires".agreed though that saurav was not of great test quality but he has def more class in him than steve as a batsman

  • Kartik on April 23, 2010, 3:18 GMT

    Excellent, excellent article. I have wondered about this for a long time, and am glad to see it in an article.

    India, a country of 1.2 billion, including 400 millon under the age of 18, still cannot produce.

    1) Even ONE real fast bowler. Antigua and Barbados has produced more fast bowlers than India.

    Wasim and Waqar were born just 50 km from the Indian border, so surely genetics are not a limitation.

    2) A successor to Kapil Dev. How on Earth can India not produce a real all-rounder, better than Irfan Pathan, in the last 15 years?

    3) A successor to Tendulkar. In the last 20 years, Tendulkar has surely inspired millions to emulate him. Yet where are the new Tendulkars? Is Sehwag, who is almost 32 himself, the only one?

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  • Kartik on April 23, 2010, 3:18 GMT

    Excellent, excellent article. I have wondered about this for a long time, and am glad to see it in an article.

    India, a country of 1.2 billion, including 400 millon under the age of 18, still cannot produce.

    1) Even ONE real fast bowler. Antigua and Barbados has produced more fast bowlers than India.

    Wasim and Waqar were born just 50 km from the Indian border, so surely genetics are not a limitation.

    2) A successor to Kapil Dev. How on Earth can India not produce a real all-rounder, better than Irfan Pathan, in the last 15 years?

    3) A successor to Tendulkar. In the last 20 years, Tendulkar has surely inspired millions to emulate him. Yet where are the new Tendulkars? Is Sehwag, who is almost 32 himself, the only one?

  • deepak on April 23, 2010, 3:45 GMT

    steve waugh " a cricketing millionaire "?ask ian chapell he will tell you how a selfish person steve waugh was . he was always obsessed about having average of 50 just like dhoni and always letting the difficult job to do to others(like batting at no 3 for instance)people like him are not cricketing millionaires .also he was one of the ugliest batsman ever seen .batsman like him cannot be given the tag of "cricketing millionaires".agreed though that saurav was not of great test quality but he has def more class in him than steve as a batsman

  • pranesh_csk_india on April 23, 2010, 5:13 GMT

    Nice article! The IPL has made some difference definitely. Almost every franchise has opened up its own academy(remember the controversy when Australia toured India for a 4-test series in Oct 2008? They stayed at the future academy in Jaipur and praised it a lot). Free nets etc.won't work in India, some politician will surely gobble up the allotted money.

  • Mani R.Iyer on April 23, 2010, 6:06 GMT

    Fantastic Article Samir

  • Ramesh on April 23, 2010, 6:18 GMT

    Refreshing post. Let the BCCI turn its attention to protecting and nourishing the golden goose.

  • Chinmay on April 23, 2010, 6:46 GMT

    Well, in India; especially in Mumbai, cricket has always been developed and played along the lines of "galli cricket". A bunch of kids arranging scratch matches on their local playgrounds (and, in some cases quiet lanes). I lived in a suburb of Mumbai and the ground where I played usually had about 60-80 kids playing at the same time (population of the locality was, maybe about 1000). It is impossible to cater such a population by nets simply due to non availability of space.

    In most of the big schools of Mumbai (ie, those who participate in Harris shield), you have reasonable cricket facilities. If you join one of the coaching centres of MCA, you have decent facilities too. I don't know how much of that is sponsored by the BCCI, but I doubt Sachin Tendulkar had much problem getting access to cricket facilities in his childhood.

    However, these are all there for dedicated players. I suspect casual players face a hard time (or have to spend some money) to get them.

  • Kamesh on April 23, 2010, 9:36 GMT

    Another articles which sounds snobbish from an Indian cricket fans perspective.Comparing Australia and India and the facilities and the captians, the write has to understand that there is absolutely no iota of comparison between the two countries. Fans, population, culture nothing at all. This looks as another one of those umpteen attempts at calling the grapes sour when you cant eat them. Sorry, Mr. Writer, your thoughts are ill conceivable and utterly ill researched without covering all perspectives.

  • Faisal Taquie on April 23, 2010, 16:19 GMT

    Great article. But I think to be fair, it is almost impossible to have the same level of facilities in India precisely because of huge population and tremendous passion for the game. Being a Pakistani, I know if such facility was provided, there will be long lines to the nets. What is missing though, really, is probably a more solid structure at schools and colleges with proper coaches, etc. Currently, I premise all these facilities are available at the academies but making good coaching, etc will be tremendous. I don't think nets will ever replace gulli or maidan cricket in the subcontinent. Our passion for the game is much different than AUS, ENG, or RSA.

  • Mustafa Rangwala on April 23, 2010, 16:59 GMT

    Ha. Finally someone asking the relevant questions.

  • Satadru Sen on April 23, 2010, 17:42 GMT

    I imagine the reason the BCCI has done nothing for cricket at the grassroots level in India is that its big-shots are too busy helping themselves to the money that top-level cricket generates. (That, and general apathy in municipal governments and school administrations.) Nets? Proper wickets? Equipment? As schoolboys, we played cricket with hockey balls on any available patch of grass or dirt, without protective gear of any kind and no coaching. Some have it slightly better, some have it worse, but those conditions were typical for middle-class Indians in the 1970s and 80s and they haven't improved much as far as I can see. The current crisis in the IPL is, in a way, reflective of everything that's wrong with Indian cricket: it has been devoured by bureaucrats, politicians and robber-baron businessmen while the rest of us were distracted by cheerleaders.