India is a country that’s obsessed with cricket, and it shows on the field. The sport is so ingrained in Indian culture that many even think of it as an ‘Indian game’. Not to forget, India is a cricket-crazy nation, with more than six million registered cricketers and millions of fans across the country.
And there’s a reason for all this. From the beginning, cricket has been mapped to our cultural history and heritage. It was introduced by Englishmen around the mid-18th century, but by then we were already well acquainted with it through other sports such as hockey and tennis.
To put it simply: cricket took off in India because we invented it! This explains why Indian players dominate global tournaments such as the World Cup and the Ashes series against England.
The history of cricket in India
Cricket was introduced to India by the British in the mid-18th century. It was played as early as the mid-18th century in India, but it was only after the British East India Company took over control of Bengal in 1765 that the game came to be widely played in the region. One can even argue that before the British, the game was played in India even before that, around 500 years ago.
We simply don’t know about it. But by the time Britain was in control of India, the game had already been popular in the coastal parts of East Africa and the East Indies, countries that lie right next to India.
The earliest recorded match in the subcontinent was held in Calcutta on August 23, 1790, between a team of Englishmen and a team of locals. The locals won the match. Still, it would be incorrect to say that cricket was played in India before British rule as the game had been around for a while before the British arrived.
Why the India women’s cricket team succeeded where others have failed
Cricket has always been played in India, but women’s cricket was introduced only a few decades ago. The women’s team was formed in the early 1990s, when the team noticed that many girls were dropping out of cricket teams due to social norms relating to women’s participation in public spaces and sporting activities. Women’s cricket in India has had its share of challenges.
For one, the Indian Cricket Board (BCCI) does not provide much support to the women’s team. As BCCI president Anurag Thakur once said, “The Women’s Team is like a frisbee, once it’s out of the stadium, it doesn’t exist anymore.” The team also faces challenges in terms of talent spotting, funding and media coverage. At the same time, the team has achieved quite a bit in the last decade.
The women’s team has achieved several milestones in the last decade: In 2015, the Indian women’s team won the Women’s World Cup for the first time. It was a remarkable achievement, considering that only a few years earlier, the team was in a state of disarray, with many of its players facing harassment and discrimination.
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In 2016, the Indian women’s team defeated the West Indies in a rare bilateral series. Up until then, the West Indies had always defeated the Indian women’s team. Even during the 2018 Women’s World Cup, the Indian team managed to qualify for the Super Six stage for the first time.
How Indian men’s cricket team defied the odds and won a World Cup
Cricket is a sport that’s played by men. But most of the teams that compete in international tournaments are co-ed teams comprising both men and women. The Indian men’s team is the only men’s cricket team in the world that has never once used a single woman in a match.
This has been their stand from the time the team was formed more than 150 years ago. The men’s team has also been one of the most successful teams in the world, consistently winning both World Cups and World T20 tournaments. In 2011, the Indian men’s team won the World Cup for the first time after beating the hosts, Sri Lanka, in the final.
The team’s performance in the tournament was remarkable. After losing the first match against Bangladesh, it beat Sri Lanka and West Indies in the next two matches to reach the final, where it faced the hosts.
The Indian men’s team has a strong fan following in India. The team’s matches are watched by millions of people, who follow their progress with great interest. Fans even travel long distances and camp outside stadiums to catch a glimpse of their favourite team, who play in cities such as Chennai and Hyderabad.
How importance of culture and grassroots cricket helped the men’s team win the World Cup
The Indian men’s team has been one of the most successful teams in the world, consistently winning both World Cups and World T20 tournaments. But in 2011, the team did something no one expected. It won the World Cup without playing a single friendly match against any other team in the tournament.
How did they manage this? The Indian team won the World Cup by beating the hosts, Sri Lanka, in the final. The Indian team’s performance in the tournament was remarkable. After losing the first match against Bangladesh, it beat Sri Lanka and West Indies in the next two matches to reach the final, where it faced the hosts.
The men’s team has a strong fan following in India. The team’s matches are watched by millions of people, who follow their progress with great interest. Fans even travel long distances and camp outside stadiums to catch a glimpse of their favourite team, who play in cities such as Chennai and Hyderabad.
That’s why co-ed teams are a bad idea! Boys versus girls doesn’t work in sports. Here’s why.
It’s often said that when a team is formed, people form around it, just as when a family is formed, people flock around it. The same holds true in sports. The popularity of some sports and their players depends on where they come from. In India, cricket is the most popular and followed sport.
But it’s not just the best sport in India, it’s the only sport that is played by men across the country. All other sports are played by women or co-ed teams. This gives these sports a boost in popularity, just as when people from one family form the Indian women’s cricket team, it makes all other women’s teams, including badminton, tennis and volleyball, more popular.
For many years, now, we Indians have been talking about how great it would be if we could beat the Englishmen in a cricket match. But we have never had the chance to play a real game against them. Finally, in 2011, we got our chance.
And we did not disappoint. In the final of the World Cup, we beat Sri Lanka, the hosts, in a tense match. The celebrations were loud and long, and even after the match, we kept singing and dancing on the streets. We are happy now. We are the kings of cricket.