Over the past few days Metroblogging cities have been posting about unique gifts that their city has given to the world. This is in the spirit of the holiday season and gift-giving which ensues in most parts of the world. In the same vein, we start our series. The countdown will go in reverse till we reach Gift #1. Note that they are not in any priority of importance, rather just gifts that India’s greatest city has to offer. Earlier posts are here
Before you jump and scream that this is a lie, read the entire post. Cricket was invented by the British. However today Indian cricket is the financial and organisational powerhouse like no other sport in the world. And the center of all this is in Bombay.
Eden Gardens may boast the biggest stadium but then also the most unruly and uncouth rowdy fans. Delhi and Madras, are wannabes when it comes to cricket. The real heart and soul of Indian cricket lies in Bombay and the talent and chutzpah that has made Indian cricket what it is is the gift from the maidans and the cricketers of Bombay.
Cricket came to India in the 18th Century.
In 1848, the Parsi community in Mumbai formed the Oriental Cricket Club, the first cricket club to be established by Indians. After slow beginnings, the Parsis were eventually invited by the Europeans to play a match in 1877. By 1912, the Parsis, Hindus, and Muslims of Bombay played a quadrangular tournament with the Europeans every year [link]
At the Wankhede
Since then Bombay hasn’t looked back. It is one of the only three cities in the world to have had three different test match grounds. The Bombay Gymkhana Grounds, The Brabourne Stadium and the Wankhede Stadium.
Besides these, the Azad Maidan, Cross Maidan, Oval and countless other such smaller maidans and the Gymkhanas have nurtured some of the greatest Indian cricketers to don the Indian colors.
It is one of the few cities which has its own team for the national Ranji Trophy. And it has won the trophy about half the time in the last 60 years since the inception of the Ranji Trophy.
Cricketers from Bombay, bring the die hard, play in all conditions, no nonsense spirit that is the embodiment of Bombay. An example of how seriously we take our cricket is the fact that we have a special tournament, the Kanga League played only during the monsoon season on pitches which are deathbeds for batsmen and bowler alike.
While most of India forgets cricket during the monsoon season, it thrives in Bombay.
A famous international cricketer had said that Bombay is the only ground in the world where the crowd in the stadium is as educated as the commentators on radio and TV. Hence a good stroke by even the opposition batsmen is applauded for the joy of the sport and not dependant on the nationality of the player. That is the true hallmark of India’s premier cricketing city.
The city has arguably provided the best Indian players from any city or state in the country. From Polly Umrigar, to Wadekar, Solkar, Gavaskar, Vengsarkar et al to today and Tendulkar. Its been an amazing line of batsmen, bowlers, and fielders that have donned the Bombay Jersey and the India Cap.
There was a time in the 70’s and 80’s when 7 of 11 players in the team were from Bombay. In recent times, the pickings have been leaner, but a lot of that has to do with the regionalism that has set in to Indian cricket.
Watching a one day international match from the East Stand or North Stand at Wankhede is an experience one has to partake at least once in their lives. The crowd chanting “Galli Galli mein shor Hai, Pakistan Chor Hai” and “Ravi Shastri Hai Hai” even as Tendulkar is on fire in the middle is an experience one will never ever forget.