Aakash Chopra
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Former India opener; author of Beyond the Blues, an account of the 2007-08 Ranji Trophy season

Build cricket centres, not stadiums

Plenty is spent in India on building stadiums that lie idle for months on end. How about building more grounds that are available to up-and-coming cricketers all year-round?

Aakash Chopra

January 29, 2013

Comments: 46 | Text size: A | A

JSCA International Cricket Stadium, Ranchi, November 28, 2012
Who and how many get to use the facilities at the state-of-the-art stadium in Ranchi when the first-class season ends? © Aakshi Chopra
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The city of Ranchi now has another reason to feel happy about apart from being the home state of India's captain, MS Dhoni. The newly built Jharkhand State Cricket Association Stadium in the city, the country's 42nd international venue, saw a full house when the Indian team walked onto the ground for the first time, for the third ODI against England. Crowds thronged the stadium not just to cheer the local star but also to set their eyes on the facility, which seemed next only to the captain in popularity, at least on that day.

If the lush green of the outfield wasn't striking enough, the pitch too was ideal for a good contest. The Himachal Pradesh team played a Ranji Trophy game at this venue about a month ago and I can vouch for its services, which are first-rate. The dressing rooms are not only spacious but also very comfortable, with a provision for ice- and steam baths in the bathrooms attached. The practice facilities, at the back of the stadium, are of good quality (about eight practice pitches), while a small field in the premises comes in handy for fielding drills and open net sessions. There's also an indoor cricket academy and a residential facility. All of this in a stadium in one of the smaller cities is pleasantly surprising.

Fortunately, though, stadiums like this aren't an aberration in India anymore. All the new ones are equipped with state-of-the-art facilities, at least for the players. While there's still some scope for improvement in terms of the services extended to spectators, players are no longer complaining about makeshift dressing rooms and dirty loos.

It's a huge shift from the long-prevalent practice of providing only basics to sportspersons, but the fad of building such stadiums is getting to be a bit of an obsession. How else does one explain the presence of more than one international stadium in a state? In Maharashtra, Nagpur has two, Mumbai three. Madhya Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh have two each. In a country that has 27 teams (two of these 27 teams are not funded by the BCCI, and hence don't have an international stadium) in its national domestic tournament, there are as many as 42 international stadiums.

I can almost hear you say that there can never be enough top-class infrastructure for sport, especially in India, and that it can only be good if every city has such a facility. While there's no denying that if put to good use, these stadiums can be breeding grounds for the Dhonis and Cheteshwar Pujaras of the future, it's important to find out if the investments involved, usually in excess of Rs 100 crore (approximately $18 million), are yielding the right results. These stadiums must make both financial sense, with regard to the revenue they generate by hosting international and IPL games, and practical sense, in terms of the access players enjoy to the facilities at these grounds through the year.

A closer look at the average number of days a Test centre is busy for annually might make these investments look like a colossal waste of money, for most of these stadiums are in use not more than 60-70 days a year. While stadiums like Mohali, Wankhede, Chepauk and Kotla (the ones that host IPL games) are busier than the rest, hosting games from September till May, other stadiums, like the two in Nagpur, are less occupied. Even the busiest stadium hosts only a handful of first-class matches (four or five), age-group tournaments (not more than four or five matches again), and a few IPL games (eight or nine).

The square and outfield in these stadiums are looked after, but most other parts, except the indoor practice facility and the gym - if there is one - remain under lock and key. At most grounds, the training facilities are adjacent to the main stadium and are put to good use throughout the year, but the main outfield is completely out of bounds.

 
 
Till not long ago, cricket was a game played in maidans. While the state associations are busy erecting stadia, the maidans have started to disappear. Buidling a world-class stadium might be a good way to justify the funds provided by the BCCI, but does it promote cricket as it should?
 

In fact, most groundsmen are so finicky, they don't even allow the home Ranji team to have fielding and training sessions on the main ground during the preparatory camps ahead of the season, let alone permitting them to play on the square before matches. They view the ground as a showpiece, which must be unveiled only when the arc lights are on and the world is watching. At times like these you wonder if calling a stadium a team's home is even partially correct, for you are as much an outsider as your opponent is.

If that's what happens with first-class cricketers who represent the state team, I need not mention how accessible the facilities are to players lower down the ladder.

For the longest time Rajkot had only one turf pitch in the city, and that was at their old cricket ground. Since there weren't regular practice sessions at the ground, most players, including the likes of Pujara, had to make do with playing on jute matting at little known cricket academies.

The stadium in Cuttack has been hosting international matches for decades, but, appallingly, it has the only turf pitch in the entire state of Orissa. Even players living in Bhubaneshwar, the capital, have to travel to Cuttack for training or practice on concrete or jute matting surfaces. Unfortunately, there are many similar stories across the country.

The point I'm trying to make here is that instead of investing hundreds of crores on state-of-the-art stadiums with all the bells and whistles, it would be a good idea to start using that money judiciously to build more cricket grounds with decent practice facilities, which in turn would attract more talent.

How about acquiring pieces of land in the interiors of every state, developing basic grounds and running cricket academies (open and free for all) through the year? Such a move would ensure that anyone who wants to play the sport, irrespective of how far from the big cities he lives, has access to a ground and a good coach. State associations could run these academies using merely the interest generated from the vast sums they spend in building big stadiums.

Till not long ago, cricket was essentially a game played in maidans. While the state associations are busy erecting stadia, the maidans have started to disappear. Building a world-class stadium might be a good way to justify the funds provided by the BCCI for "promotion of sport", but does it promote cricket as it should? It will be interesting to know how many state associations would take up such ambitious projects if they had to raise the funds themselves. Right now the money is provided by the BCCI, and so the states don't think twice about the utility or otherwise of such expenditure.

Some state associations - Karnataka and Himachal Pradesh among them - have set an example by opening many cricket centres funded and/or run by the state association across the state throughout the year. Others must consider following suit.

Building a few more stadiums is unlikely to produce another Sachin Tendulkar or Kapil Dev, but opening cricket centres might just put India on the right track to unearth talent.

Former India opener Aakash Chopra is the author of Out of the Blue, an account of Rajasthan's 2010-11 Ranji Trophy victory. His website is here and his Twitter feed here

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Posted by ARad on (January 31, 2013, 2:38 GMT)

Everyone loves to complain about BCCI but only BCCI created IPL. No other country in the world can match IPL which proves BCCI has been doing the right thing. BCCI is not a government organization and it is not their job to create public playing spaces. Instead of pointing out the failure of government to create public pitches, everyone is trying to point their fingers at BCCI which is becoming the second most popular pastime in India (and the first most popular pastime in countries other than India where cricket is the most popular sport.) Long live IPL! Signed - Andy 'tongue in cheek' Rad.

Posted by sumgad on (January 30, 2013, 20:44 GMT)

Well researched and well informed. Akash Chopra is doing Indian Cricket a big service by highlighting specific issues.

Posted by sachinrh on (January 30, 2013, 15:05 GMT)

Thank you Akash. I recently went to India, Mumbai, after little longer gap. First day I realized, there were hardly any play grounds where I live, in one of the famous suburbs in Mumbai. Till 10-15 years back as a youngster, we had plethora of options to play cricket. Felt sad for the kids playing around in a very narrow lane where it was wide enough for 3 people to stand next to each other. Most of the cricket grounds now occupied by buildings & businesses. I was asking friends, where do kids play & most of them replied they no longer play cricket. Worst is, almost all local schools have extended school facility over their grounds, where it used to be extremely crowded over the weekend. Now even denying the school kids, regular Physical Training classes. Handful of kids with money & time can afford those private coachings which is flourishing. Cricket has become more of showbiz in India & its matter of time people will forget it used to be a sport.

Posted by www.CricketMontreal.ca on (January 30, 2013, 14:25 GMT)

Hi Akash, Excellent article, I love it! We at CM feel that you are definitely on to something. A topic that follows the same vain and might make for an interesting article is the progress of the development of junior cricket in French speaking Montreal Canada. We believe that our template will open doors for rapid development and has already made some historical progress in the all facets of development including just last night competing with the local ice-hockey team for the prime-time TV slot. All of this through development that is focused on youth, sensitization and introduction of the game of cricket. If you feel that we're on to something, please give us a shout. Again, great article, much more like this is needed.

Posted by Al_Bundy1 on (January 30, 2013, 12:38 GMT)

Excellent point made by Aakash - Till not long ago, cricket was essentially a game played in maidans. While the state associations are busy erecting stadia, the maidans have started to disappear. We need more maidans and net facilities so that our youngsters can practice there and get better. There's no need for more than 2 cricket stadium in a state.

Posted by Al_Bundy1 on (January 30, 2013, 12:34 GMT)

Another brilliant article by Aakash. A cricket stadium is like a showpiece that consumes a lot of resources but is put on display only once or twice a year. It's not of much practical value in terms of providing cricketing facilities to our youngsters.

Posted by Babu22 on (January 30, 2013, 5:55 GMT)

I am an Indian living in Perth. Here in Aus, if I want to play cricket, I can go to at least 5 different grounds in 10 km radius from my house. Each ground has min. 2 nets for practice. All of them are open to public. You go to interiors of Aus towns and see the same thing. The game is also properly managed by relevant authorities right from Under-10 level in every town. This is in such a constrast to what we have in India. In Delhi, for eg, there are no public parks where you can go and play cricket. And I don't remember seeing any nets there either. Management of age group cricket in India is also limited to only a very few cities. As a kid, I played on the roads. I agree with Aakash that development of public places similar to those in Aus would greatly improve the number and quality of cricketers that come out. Overall a nice article, addressing a proper issue. BCCI won't understand that doing such is a thing is an investment that benefits everyone in the long term.

Posted by kabe_ag7 on (January 30, 2013, 3:31 GMT)

Absolutely fantastic article. Aakash Chopra has his heart in the perfect place when it comes to the welfare of Indian cricket.

Posted by crazy-sid on (January 29, 2013, 20:04 GMT)

One of the finest stadiums in India the VCA at Nagpur is also has a cricket academy and many youngsters are trained there. Unfortunately cricket is ridden with politics in smaller towns like Nagpur that very few get to make it at the bog level. Most good players just wean away, earlier it happened due to lack of options and now it happens because of the kind of money involved in the game......even to get selected in junior camps and teams bribes of Rs. 20-30 Lakhs are aksed for......Cricket Centres also need to ensure incorruptibility.

Posted by Nutcutlet on (January 29, 2013, 19:50 GMT)

Unless & until the BCCI starts to take a genuine interest in cricket from the earliest ages upwards then it's a poor look-out for cricket across the country. Where is the youth programme? Where are the regional facilites to ensure the future of the game long after the stuffed shirts of the current BCCI have passed on? Where, indeed, is the investment in women's cricket? Fancy new stadiums do not make cricketers, but they might generate revenue if those stadiums can be filled on a regular basis. Other countries fully acknowledge that the most precious aspect of any nation is their youth. Even in hard economic times, the youth must remain an unquestioned priority. We are no more than caretakers to ensure that they have the means to a bright future, a future we can be proud to pass over to them when the time comes. Look to your youth, BCCI, so that they may bless you rather than cusre you in years to come!

Posted by mgr125128 on (January 29, 2013, 19:37 GMT)

Make Padmakar Shivalkar our spin coach , Glen Mcgrath our fast/swing bowling coach and then see the results

Posted by guptsAllStars on (January 29, 2013, 18:46 GMT)

Why stop at cricket centres? Considering there is considerable public money at stake (either discounted land or direct funding), it should be multiple-sports e.g. football, athletics could easily be accommodated.

Posted by sitaram58 on (January 29, 2013, 17:21 GMT)

BBCI is a money making "for profit" organization. They are not in the charity business making cricket grounds which will provide no return!!!!!

Posted by BeingCricketFan on (January 29, 2013, 16:38 GMT)

A great article Aakash sir. Your point is correct and not only Karnataka or Himachal Pradesh but all should provide such facilities. We have 27 Ranji teams and expect 2 all have their own grounds (as mentioned above). If made right use of the funds provided by BCCI, India could provide good cricketers.

Eg: if all 27 ranji teams build their own stadiums with world class facilities, and adapt good coaches to train players India might have another Tendulkar or Kapil Dev. Haveing 4-5 stadiums in city/state (as in Maharashtra) dosent mean cricket is popular there untill this dosent provide good coaching facilities. Just get 2-3 stadiums in every state and provide good facilities there which will help build our nation alot good players

Posted by Nampally on (January 29, 2013, 16:34 GMT)

Aakash, there is always a Need for Cricket coaching Centres rather than more Stadiums & you did it via this article. There are centres of Excellence when ever you are promoting any Technology. These Centres meet the local area needs & make people aware of utilising those services. Having Centres of Excellence for Cricket Coaching & promotion should be in BCCI mandate. In Australia they have them. If India wants to be competitive in the World Cricket, there is a strong justification to have 4 or 5 Regional centres. Each should be provided with a top class coach + Physio & conditioning facilities - use some of these 42 stadiums!BCCI are reported to have made a $40 Million profit last year. Where does this money go ? It must be used for development of the Cricketers thru' Coaching & training via Centres of Excellence. Various age group Cricketer can be trained at different times. Cricketers from small Towns would love it. This will also attract bigger crowds for all Matches. Great idea!

Posted by AvidCricFan on (January 29, 2013, 16:11 GMT)

This just shows that BCCI has no well thought out grass-root plan to improve cricket talent development. I think the ground/facility accessibility should be taken down to under 15 tournament level. The concept of cricket centers makes perfect sense. They should be available all the way to C and D grade cities. Now the quality of turf pitches is all together another issue. The centers should have pitches of various types (subcontinent spinners as well as fast/bouncy).

Posted by Santosh_for_csk on (January 29, 2013, 15:12 GMT)

Great piece. This instantly strikes chord with anyone who play cricket at a serious level and would have passed by an international stadium that is locked en route to their office or schools thinking about how great facilities are restricted in access only to international players and how genuine players at lower level need to dive around in dusty ground and hurt themselves for the love of the game. No wonder why we do not dive well in international matches.

Posted by vijayroy on (January 29, 2013, 15:10 GMT)

Aakash is always spot on for his article..... super like...

Posted by vish2020 on (January 29, 2013, 14:25 GMT)

Very good article Aakash! BCCI has a huge role to play rather than just show up in post match presentation with over large suits and act like they got everything in control

Posted by Er-.S.R.shankar on (January 29, 2013, 12:40 GMT)

That is a lucid presentation from AAkash with characteristic insight and thought provoking for the administrators. Slowly with the gloss and glamour attached to it cricket like Tennis is slowly becoming a game exclusively for affluent What is the point in having so many stadiums if they cannot offer pitches and facilities for the budding cricketers. Playground of such stadium could be developed for multi sports facilities Particularly they could give a deserving facelift for hockey The stadiums should move from metros and each state should have one at district centre which would go a long way in unearthing new talent AAkash how I wish cricket intellect like you should don the role of administrator or cricket coach Thanks for article with different cricket perspective to provide relief from mediocre essays on cricketers or their performance on and off the field from other writers which is followed by slanging match from parochial fans of the forum

Posted by ExCon on (January 29, 2013, 12:10 GMT)

Academies and scouts are essential to unearthing and developing talent. I'm surprised that the Indian administrators can continue to ignore this simple fact of sport.

Our university (Singapore) team travelled to Perth in 2007 for a cricket tour. One of the games we played was in a rural community of 2000 people, a 3 hour drive from Perth. We were going to play their under 16 side. When we turned up, I was amazed to see a WACA (Western Australia Cricket Association, based in Perth) scout turn up to umpire the game.

Upon asking, we were told that the WACA allocates rural districts to a scout and provides them with a truck to go around and watch as many matches as possible. Simple-y astonishing.

As it turned out, a 11 year old leg spinner wrapped up our tail that day and was duly noted by the scout.

In a land as wide as India, we can only imagine how many such talented kids are waiting to be discovered and groomed.

Posted by drrao.nit on (January 29, 2013, 11:56 GMT)

Dear Akash, You have written excellent article. But can you plz send the same copy to the BCCI, so that atleast they can do something

Posted by Amit_13 on (January 29, 2013, 10:41 GMT)

Another excellent article Aakash. But I do wish you had drawn the complete picture by comparing to some other teams / countries like Australia or England or NSW today and their development tiers for cricketers. I appreciate its difficult to quantify external sources. The other aspect to consider would have been a skill based zonal development approach to domestic cricket in India. What I mean by that is we now talk a lot about fast bowlers coming out of U.P. and Mumbai & Delhi being hotbeds for batsmen traditionally. Considering this, one may wish for a batsman heaven in Mumbai and a minefield in U.P. You then stand a chance to unearthing hardened players who know their skill.

Posted by xsSandy on (January 29, 2013, 10:25 GMT)

Akash, to the point again. It is pleasing to see someone talking about the game economics so closely. I would like to go further and suggest convertible stadiums for various games (atleast hockey, football) to make ROI more feasible and around the year usage of facilities. NZ and Australia has such facilities.

Posted by   on (January 29, 2013, 10:03 GMT)

Hi Akash,

Good Insight. This is the case, largely.But with Srinath and Kumble at the helm in KSCA, with a good stadium in place, the focus has been on cricket centers. New centres have come up in districts like Hubli, Shimoga, pavillion facilities in Mysore; 3 fantastic state of the art facilities in a place called Alur, on the outskirts of Bangalore; the RC academy with CVBC technology installed. take a look....

Posted by realfan on (January 29, 2013, 8:51 GMT)

sometimes i wonder how AKASH CHOPRA comes up with such a gem of an article.... i am regular reader of his articles and he is very sensible in bringing the small small issue that may cause big problems in the future....this is one of those.... and he mentioned karnataka, yes i am kannadiga and there are many stadiums here to practice without any restriction... because of 1 thing here people are encouraging and not money minded when it comes to sports....

i think india missed an opener in test match by dropping AKASH CHOPRA ...but he turned out to be AN EYE OPENER.... sorry for the poor english with the last sentence.....

Posted by gof86 on (January 29, 2013, 8:49 GMT)

Well said, Aakash. His is a voice that is clearly passionate about the game in the country - and in my opinion has a better perspective than most: he has played the game for a good while at the highest level, and has had years and years at the Ranji level (which most of the biggest names in Indian cricket have not). The Karnataka initiative has to be applauded. Kumble and Srinath are sowing the seeds, the benefit of which will be seen in the next decade. Maybe another era where the national team would be having simultaneously 4 quickies, the greatest spinner india has seen, two spinning alrounders, and two batsmen --- all vying for first team places - 3 if you consider JAK (that's 10 players!). But that was a freak incident -a lot of players of quality coming through at the same time. This time, if it happens, would be different. Also, most of these international grounds are at a distant part of the cities - no crowd unless there is the IPL. Seriously, what's the purpose they solve?

Posted by Rahulbose on (January 29, 2013, 8:42 GMT)

The administration logic is simple, it is harder to siphon off funds by running small cricket academies. It much more easier while building big stadiums.

Posted by Ajayvs on (January 29, 2013, 8:15 GMT)

Perfect as usual Aakash!! although a bit off topic, but read somewhere today that the Mumbai Ranji team won a overall bounty 10 crore for winning the Ranji trophy, which is great. Can't BCCI have such cash bounties for outright wins in Ranji games. This will at-least act as a incentive for teams to try for outright wins rather than playing for first innings lead?

Posted by Kailesh.Patel on (January 29, 2013, 8:04 GMT)

Its the same scene in all other sports as well ... no great facilities available around the country for nurturing talent .. its the management that needs to take initiative and like many say ... retired players and not politicians and business administrators should be the brains and heart of sporting organisations ... as they know what it takes to play the sport ...

Posted by anuragpant on (January 29, 2013, 7:40 GMT)

Very true Aakash.In this so called great cricketing nation of ours,the spirit of cricket seems to be dying.In fact we have lost the feeling to appreciate the beauty of cricket in true sense and form.We no longer chuckle and clap for a well played shot,though defensive ,but we can hear roars on the sight of a slogged six.That's what cricket has become .The stadiums have become centers for shameless display of money and power.It doesn't attract true cricket lovers anymore.To the plight of the players,they have to struggle to get proper training facilities.Till you reach a certain level,playing on turf becomes a distant dream,as if its a treasure.If the stadiums are not meant for genuine cricket,it really doesn't matters whether they exist or not.We should not let them become sources of earning money.Money may come from Cricket,but you cannot get quality cricket from money if you compromise with the true essence of cricket itself.For a true fan,Money will just remain a by product.

Posted by nearlyman on (January 29, 2013, 7:33 GMT)

BCCI is a private body.What Akash suggests are facilities for the citizens of the country.That can be provided by philantropists o anr instrumentality of the state.BCCI is neither.Therefore while the concept is noble, I would suggest that Mr.Chopra and other cricket enthusiasts read the Zee Telefilms vs Union of India Judgement after which BCCI cannot be considered to be an instrumentality of the state and look for agencies and individual outside the BCCi for such an arrangement which would include recreational cricket and cricket played for purposes of exercise and fitness.

Posted by Ayush_Chauhan on (January 29, 2013, 7:23 GMT)

I for one disagree, Having multiple international level stadium can never be a bad thing. For anything it helps bring the international game to cities which never had a prayer before of hosting a match. Having an international stadium brings the game to the people, rather than asking the people come to the game, and that in today's screen driven world is very important. I understand that facilities and infrastructure should be provided but the grounds do that, albeit not in a complete way. Stadium may not be the way to go in developing grassroots cricket, but then your are looking at it with the wrong outlook, it is there for branding and merchandising cricket.

Posted by Shazli on (January 29, 2013, 7:13 GMT)

nice to read that india now got some quality stadiums as well..... before that we always heard complains from Int'l player about dressing room and lack of facilities during practice and matches....

Posted by nearlyman on (January 29, 2013, 7:13 GMT)

What is suggested here is a wonderful concept.It can be seen in practice at the Civil services Ground in Chanakyapuri where perhaps Akash would have played a few matches.Anybody, just about anybody with Rs 500 a month to spare can come and join the coaching.Just about anybody can watch a cricket match during the long October to march season which is pleasant in Delhi.

Posted by pulkit10 on (January 29, 2013, 6:43 GMT)

A thoughtfully put together article.

The money for sport infrastructure is better spent on actual training grounds for youngsters and not lavish stadiums that cannot be used by anyone outside of the allotted game period. Just doesn't make financial or common sense.

Furthermore, might I also suggest serving up a variety of conditions on offer? I might sound like a complete fan boy but you only have to look at Australia and South Africa as examples - both have produced players talented with pace and spin over the last few decades and that has to do with the kind of pitches they have introduced. For every Adelaide, there is a WACA and for every Newlands there is a Port Elizabeth. The BCCI definitely has the money to emulate any kind of facility in the world so why not put it to use and help players prepare for overseas challenges? Sometimes I wish someone like Rahul Dravid would be in charge so that he could work this all out with an obsession but that's wishful thinking.

Posted by deepakbsg on (January 29, 2013, 5:04 GMT)

Well written!!! the point to be noted is how Karnataka under Anil Kumble and Javagal Srinath as teh president and secre. have invested in providing amazing turf practice wickets in various parts of the state.... till recently(10 years) Mysore didnt have a single turf cricket ground... today there are 4 turf grounds and about 5 turf practice pitches..... Cricketers need to come into main administrative positions to envison what is needed the most...... Sachin/Dada/Dravid should start taking more roles as admisnistartors....

Posted by IndiaChampspakchumps on (January 29, 2013, 5:01 GMT)

India is the reason why cricket still survives as an international sport. India is the greatest cricketing nation on earth. India has enough stadiums and cricketing centres.

Posted by shiblee on (January 29, 2013, 4:56 GMT)

You have hit the nail on the head Akash! When I saw the schedule with matches at Ranchi, Rajkot, Dharamsala hosting ODIs for the first time, I was waiting for someone to raise this issue. If 100 Crore was spent judiciously we could have easily built 20-25 decent facilities. And that would have done far greater good to the game. We don't see any real talent coming through, all out young players (Rohit Sharma, Suresh Raina et al) have been around for more than 5 years and have yet to establish themselves in team. We are not going to find Next Sachin Tendulkar or Rahul Dravid or Anil Kumble in those 100 Crore stadiums. The breeding ground for them would have to be something like Shivaji park.

Posted by ThatsJustCricket on (January 29, 2013, 4:36 GMT)

A brilliant article. Absolutely agree.

Posted by vinodh_samurai on (January 29, 2013, 4:32 GMT)

Rs.100 crores is approx $18 million , not $1.8 million as stated.

Posted by kirangupta on (January 29, 2013, 3:58 GMT)

Great article and so true!!!

Posted by wedontlikecricketweloveit on (January 29, 2013, 3:56 GMT)

I agree with you Akash. The Stadiums being built by India are great but Wouldn't it be better it they spend half of that money into finding world class players. They should have free try outs every weekend in every city possible to find out players who can really bowl FAST. Then they need put them in Ranji teams to see how they perform there.

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Aakash ChopraClose
Aakash Chopra Aakash Chopra is the 245th Indian to represent India in Test cricket. A batsman in the traditional mould, he played 10 Tests for India in 2003-04, and has played over 120 first-class matches. He currently plays for Delhi in the Ranji Trophy; his book Beyond the Blues was an account of the 2007-08 season. Chopra made a formidable opening combination with Virender Sehwag, which was believed to be one of the reasons for India's success in Australia and Pakistan in 2003-04. He is considered one of the best close-in fielders India has produced after Eknath Solkar.

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