Ranji Trophy 2012-13, Quarter-finals January 10, 2013

Sussex globe-trotter laps up Ranji Trophy

70-year-old Peter Chismon, who has been at 54 Test grounds around the world, is currently on a three-month tour of India and is catching as many international and domestic matches as he can

Places in which 70-year-old Sussex fan Peter Chismon has watched cricket in over the past two months: Mumbai, Jammu, Surat, Pune, Chennai, Hyderabad, Visakhapatnam, Sambhalpur, Cuttack, Faridabad, Nagpur, Rajkot. At least those are the cities he can immediately recall. He has been at 54 Test grounds around the world, and is currently on a three-month tour of India and is lapping up international and domestic matches like a man at an all-you-can-eat buffet.

Given the travel involved, the hotels, the living out of a suitcase, all of which even well-paid players complain about, why does he do it? "Because I like cricket, that's my hobby you see, now that I have retired," Chismon says. Press him for something more than that simple explanation, and all he offers is, "India in winter is better than England in winter."

His cricket watching started early ("I saw Bradman at Hastings, and just about remember it") but was interrupted by a 22-year stint in the army that ended in 1982. After that, he worked with a gun manufacturer ("very, very expensive shotguns"), and after his retirement has spent his summers watching Sussex and the Lord's Test, and the winters crisscrossing the globe in search of cricket.

He started touring in 1994, and hasn't stopped since. "I was off work for about six weeks in the winter, it was an Ashes year, so I decided to go to Australia for the cricket." The reason? "Because the fare was cheap, 600 pounds return to Melbourne."

This is his fifth visit to India. In Rajkot, where thousands thronged the team hotel to welcome the England one-day team, Chismon has perhaps been the only spectator to watch the entire Ranji match between Saurashtra and Karnataka. There are usually several dozen fans milling around the ground, but most drift away after watching an hour or so. He rarely takes his eye off the game, frequently peering through his binoculars for a better look, and doesn't get up from his seat except at the end of a session. Even while talking to me, he as one eye on the cricket and his answers are punctuated with remarks on the match -"Yes, he's got him, hasn't he?", "there's the ninth, one more to go," and so on.

Given that many Ranji games are first-innings affairs, with the final day proving meaningless - like in all three current quarter-finals - doesn't he get bored? "People like a bit of excitement, that's why people flock in to ODIs and T20s, but here you need to be more," he pauses searching for the right word, "attuned to the cricket to see how it goes. Cricket is cricket, it is not boring." Does he like the shorter formats? "No, no, no, no, no," is the dismissive answer.

Chismon collects autographs of every Test player he comes across, and has an old-fashioned scorebook in which he keeps score every time he watches a Test at a new venue. "I had some photographs for someone, he gave me 10 photos, I've got six signed already but have four more to go, I've got Dhoni to get but he's easy isn't he," he chuckles. "Another fellow at home collect ties, I've only got one this year, that was Tamil Nadu."

As you'd expect from a man with so many miles under his belt, he has plenty of advice for travellers. "Patience is a virtue you got to have in India, if you want it to happen, it will happen in the end, don't rush it and it will happen," he says. "You have got to plan properly, get your itinerary sorted out." He booked his tickets for this trip at the start of 2012, when even the Ranji format for this season wasn't decided, much less the fixtures.

And he has chalked out plans to catch Sri Lankan domestic cricket early next year, and wants to return to India for the 2014-15 season. "I have seen every state except Haryana in Group B, and five in Group C. I shall definitely go to Dharamsala (where he wanted to go this time, but couldn't as there was no match scheduled), the first match that is played there that season, in November when it is warmer."

Ask him which of the Test venues he wants most to visit, and he starts mentally checking off the grounds he's already been at. "Done everything in Australia, done all the major ones in West Indies and South Africa," before he settles on his answer. "Karachi, don't know whether that will happen, I want to do that, it's the most important one."

As our chat winds down, Saurashtra get bowled out in Rajkot and he rushes over towards the dressing rooms, searching for Abhimanyu Mithun to add to his collection of autographs.

Siddarth Ravindran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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  • Nathan on January 10, 2013, 17:05 GMT

    Continued ... The 6 teams to play matches in 2 month schedule twice a year, say summer and winter, such a way that India team players can also participate. The schedule to include long formats where each team will have 120 overs each innings to force a decision. ODI and T-20 will follow the current rules. The teams play the matches across TEST center surfaces - Pace & Bouncy (Mohali, Motera, Nagpur, Dharmshala), True and Even (Chennai, Wankhade, HYD) , Turners (Kolkatta, BGL), Dud pitches (Delhi, Kanpur). The surfaces at the centers to be prepared in such a way to bring out the best in the teams. It is also requried that support cast for the 'National League' teams are proven candidates & held accountable. I'd still suggest Ranji and other tournaments to continue with BCCI and state associations involvement, and can help unearth new potential which can replace the under-performing players from the 'National League' - The question is BCCI, National Selectors can STEP UP to the NEW VISO

  • Nathan on January 10, 2013, 16:49 GMT

    @SKS5983 - good point.. back in 2006 my brother proposed a format 'National League' to be comprised of not more than 6 teams. He even published the article in Khel.com eve with a proposal of assigning points based on performance for all players. The other 5 teams to have players picked from across the national with no regional bias and the 6th team having players from NCA and who represented in U-19 tournaments. Each team to be comprised of 5 batsmen, 2 all-rounders, 2 WKs, 4 pacers and 2 spinners. There team members are considered elite based on their performance, consistency, attitude and willingness to excel. As these team members are selected with no regional bias, it helps in better co-ordination and understanding among each other. The above structure will provide a pool of 30 batsmen, 12 all-rounders, 12 WKs, 24 pace bowelrs and 12 spin bowlers. From this pool, we can find the right mix of players to play in TEST, ODI and T-20 formats. ... to be continued

  • Vijay on January 10, 2013, 15:03 GMT

    Good Read.

    Have a safe and great time in India

    Best Wishes for all future travels :-)

  • Sachin on January 10, 2013, 14:18 GMT

    Continued...Duleep Trophy should Consist of Only 6 Teams. North Zone, East Zone, West Zone, West Zone, National Cricket Academy XI (Those who are Indian team discard or trying to improve after injury) divide into two groups, team will play 2 matches each and top team of the group will compete for title. and at the end of the season Irani trophy. In this way RanjiTrophy, Odis, T-20 Should start in September and Play till Feb. March for Duleep trophy.April first week Irani Trophy and from second week onwards April-May for IPL. Top performers will play mimimun 16 and maximun 18 first class matches in one season. same with Odis and T-20. In the end a player who plays all format in this circumstrances will be busy on the field for 64-74 days in first class as well as 16-18 days in List A and T-20.

  • Sachin on January 10, 2013, 14:04 GMT

    To make Interesting Cricket make the number of first class team down to 10. 1. East India (Assam, Tripura, Orissa, West Bengal, Jharkhand) 2. West India (Maharashra, Goa, Gujrat, Saurashtra, Baroda) 3. North India (Pujab, Haryana, Himachal, J&k) 4. South India (Tamil Nadu,Karnataka, Kerala, Hyderabad, Andhra) 5. Central India (Rajastan, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Vidarbha) 6. Mumbai 7. Delhi 8. Railways and Services. If we reduce the number of team to 8 we will get quality players as the top batsmen and bowler will only quality to play for his particular team if performance is poor there will be lot of replacement available. It will only help to make Team India strong, otherwise having 27 teams is only degrading the cricket of our Country. 8 teams can play vs each other in home and away Format will play atleast 14 rounds and at the end of the season top two team should compete for Final. Same for Odi and T-20 Format.`

  • Dummy4 on January 10, 2013, 12:30 GMT

    I'm interested to find out what the standard of Indian FC cricket is. Players like Kotak play in the same league as me and scored a total of about 5 runs in 2 knocks. He is past his sell by date in terms of what he can do at the FC level and I thin it would be better to reduce the number of FC teams in India to try and get the best players not playing international cricket against each other all the time.

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