Cricket – The Religion of India

When it comes to games, Cricket is leading the way in India, the national game Hockey lagging miles behind. The passion among the people for the game is evident in the matches that are hosted in India. Thus it is said more than often that cricket has achieved the status of a religion in India with millions of followers to its credit. The fan base transcends all the cultural and religious barriers of the country. The people are so passionate about the game that it is almost impossible for a neutral cricket viewer to come and enjoy the game. The crowds begin to fill the stadium 5 hours prior on match days.

The different versions of the game have their respective followers with the One day matches and Twenty 20 comprising of youth and the Test matches for avid lovers of the game. The game which is played primarily by 8-10 nations is a rage in the Indian sub-continent with India leading the way. People follow their favorite cricketers closely and even a minute incident in their lives becomes a top story in the News. It might be fascinating for the sports fraternity across the world that the boards of such a game are among the richest in the world. For instance, the BCCI (Board for Cricket and Control in India) is the richest in the world leaving behind top Football clubs and the game which is being played by almost every country in the world.

Thus it is quite natural for people to know how one can create a success story with a game that is played only by minuscule number of nations of which some are still developing economies. But it will be an eye opener for them and for the followers of the game that there are very few spectators that come to witness the local or club level matches and thus turn out at only International matches. Most of them turn out at the matches where the home team is playing and see the home team winning. There are quite a number of occasions when India was losing the match and the stadium had to be evacuated as there was uproar from the crowd and throwing of bottles on the opponent team. There is maddening celebration after winning a game and effigies of players being burnt after losing a game. Thus it raises a basic question that whether we Indians really love the game of Cricket?

If Indians really appreciate the game then there should be ample public in the local club level matches and the standard of these games would also be higher. Unfortunately, this is not the case in India. It's true that people are crazy but they want to see India winning. They can not appreciate the finer things of the game even if home country is winning forget about when losing a game. This may not look an appropriate justification to an avid cricket lover from India but the picture will be crystal clear if we visit other countries and sports.

For instance the stadium is full of capacity in the club level matches in England and Australia with people staying till the very end of the game. They appreciate a good shot even by an opponent player's team which is just opposite in India as there is a pin drop silence even if the opposition player has hit a beautiful shot or taken a crucial wicket. This is magnifies if we get to witness other games like tennis. It is a common instance there when people come together to appreciate a good game rather than support a particular player. There are quite a number of instances when Swiss maestro ace Roger Federer is cheered for his shot making over Briton Andy Murray in Wimbledon. The game of cricket, ironically, is facing a stiff competition from its various versions like One Day Cricket is Threatening Test Matches while Twenty20 is threatening them all.

Thus if Cricket has its ambitions to become a global game then its reception has to be a bit more serious in a country like India which has the largest following for the game. Otherwise, the success story of BCCI will be a temporary one and about just cashing the sentiments of the masses. They will have to promote the game at the grass root level and then go the next level of introducing it to the nations that are completely new to the game.