November 24, 2010

Beyond boundaries

At ESPNcricinfo we are always trying to expand our range. And the latest addition is a travel section that will allow you to explore the host countries before the World Cup begins

At ESPNcricinfo we are always trying to expand our range. We are fortunate that the canvas and the tapestry of cricket often allow us to venture out of our crease without feeling silly. That said, though, a travel section on a cricket site isn't as radical as it might seem: in fact, having got the section up and running, we're wondering what took us so long.

All sports are shaped by their environment. There is a reason why cricket has struggled to find a base outside the Commonwealth nations. Within cricket, different countries, regions and states provide the game with its varied hues and textures. Not only do the Indians play their cricket in a distinctly different style and manner from the West Indians, Mumbai cricketers play the game differently from those in Delhi, just as cricketers in Yorkshire are different from those in Lancashire.

To fully understand and appreciate cricket, you need to understand the places it's played in. And as cricket's biggest tournament travels to the World Cup, we have built a section that will allow you to explore the host countries before the World Cup begins.

This isn't merely a travel site about where to stay and what to eat and see. Those essentials are all there, but we've also made an attempt to find the cricket pulse of each city, explore its cricket heritage, and share cricket experiences.

If you've ever wondered why Bangalore has always produced cricketers who are gentlemanly and self-effacing, though still confident, Suresh Menon has an explanation. Soumya Bhattacharya explores matters of the heart when he writes on what Eden Gardens and Sourav Ganguly mean to the residents of Kolkata. Elsewhere, Sharda Ugra writes about watching cricket in Colombo when it felt like West Bank on an island, and Jayaditya Gupta describes the not immediately apparent charms of Ahmedabad.

Even the recommendations come cricket-flavoured. We tell you about the best places to stay, eat, party or shop in near the cricket grounds, and there's expert advice from resident cricketers themselves. Yuvraj Singh has a list of five must-dos for his hometown Chandigarh, one of which suggests a trip to "the most trustworthy and efficient petrol station in all of Punjab". Kumar Sangakkara gives you the lowdown on what to do when in Kandy. There's also Parthiv Patel on Ahmedabad, Mahela Jayawardene on Colombo, Shakib Al Hasan on Dhaka, and lots more.

Each of the 13 host towns for the World Cup has its own homepage. Here's the one for Delhi, to get you started.

Fresh articles will be added these pages in the coming days. And you too can contribute. What advice would you give to tourists coming to your cities? And what shouldn't they miss doing before leaving? Tell us also about your memories of watching, playing or anything else cricket-related. To write in, click here here.

Sambit Bal is the editor of ESPNcricinfo