June 23, 2010

Indian cricket

Beware England's footballing woes

George Binoy

In the Guardian, Dileep Premachandran draws a parallel between England's footballers and India's cricketers and says the troubles that Gerrard and Co are going through could apply to India in the 2011 World Cup.

Ahead of an epoch-defining match against a country with a population less than that of East London, those that follow English football are familiar with all of these. Yet, in eight months time, we could write exactly the same things and they would be equally relevant to Indian cricket. Come February and March 2011, a hundred TV channels and newspapers and blogs in more than a dozen languages will indulge in a navel-gazing frenzy as India's finest attempt to emulate the improbable events of June 1983, when a team rated a 66-1 chance by some bookies beat the overwhelming favourites in a contest that was cricket's answer to Rumble in the Jungle and rope-a-dope.

The great expectations are easy to explain. England may have reached fewer major finals than Greece and the Czech Republic since 1966, but a domestic league awash with money became the destination of choice for some of the world's most talented footballers as the 20th century gave way to the new millennium. At the same time, cricket's financial heart migrated from London to Mumbai, eventually giving rise to the phenomenon that is now the Indian Premier League.

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George Binoy is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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