From being a post-colonial sport to a national obsession, Cricket has really gone through a lot. It is one of the very few things, along with Bollywood and Hindi, that ties the country together. But not all the cricketers get the chances they deserve. So is cricket a realistic career option in India? We find out.
1. Excessive Competition: India has a huge amount of cricketing talent, considering its following and the sheer size of the nation. But too much of anything is bad. Indian cricket is one of the most crowded platforms in the world. This quite natural, considering the sheer following that the sport enjoys here. This is exactly why most of the upcoming players fail to get to at least First Class cricket in India. As a result, of an intense saturation happens with scarce opportunity in comparison. This results in some hidden gems in the form of highly talented individuals remain in obscurity.
2. Crooked Domestic Cricket: India’s Domestic cricket system is crooked. Most of the pitches are curated to be flat or spinner friendly. This is a dangerous predicament in a sport that depends so much on the pitch surface, As a result, the country has produced many great batsman and spinner but few pacers. Even the batsman has a propensity for Indian pitches and struggle to play in foreign conditions simply because they are unprepared for them. They simply haven’t played in those conditions as frequently.
3. Unfair Selection: Selection system is also anything but fair in the country, although it is not all selector’s fault. After all, who can follow each and every game in the country? Thus, the players who go on to reflect more in media stand a better chance of getting noticed than others, even if their performances may have come up at a friendly pitch or a weak opponent.
1. Emerging Leagues: The privatization of cricket in the form of IPL has revolutionized not only the sport but others as well. After under a decade, India already has private leagues for Badminton, Hockey, Kabaddi, Volleyball, Tennis and so on. Moreover, this trend has been sparked abroad as well, where regions like the West Indies, South Africa and Pakistan have all adopted the ‘IPL-format’.
Back in the country as well, there have emerged a number of private leagues, especially on the State level. (Karnataka Premier League, Maharashtra Premier League, Hindustan Premier League etc among others.) This means that although competition is rising, the avenues that budding players can play in are also rising.
2. Popularity in Foreign Countries: Cricket is seriously spreading to foreign countries. This is at the back of a serious media exposure with Indian Premier League again playing a big role here as well. NRIs also are vital in making the sport popular in their respective countries. This translates into new opportunities for the budding youngsters, who have a serious chance of representing the respective country at various international tournaments, including the World Cup qualifiers.
Since the sport is only in its nascent stages in the western countries, especially the developed countries, chances of your selection are very high. Check this example: Saurabh Netravalkar, a U19 Indian player who chose to pursue software engineering in US now is the captain of their national side. What is fascinating is that he still has his day job as a software engineer and plays only on weekends.
3. Growing Demand in County Cricket: The County Cricket is considered as one of the most classic forms of cricket. And why not? The format was formed centuries ago, and is still played in the purest forms there. In fact, if you have to taste the real cricket, just head to a popular English club.
It is thus not surprising that many of the established Indian players such as Cheteshwar Pujara and Ishant Sharma head to England to better their skills when most of their Indian counterparts are plying their trades in IPL. Over the years, club owners have started to realize the cricketing of India. As a result, there has been a growing demand for a quality Indian talent in County Cricket.
4. New Leagues in the T10 Format: First it was the Test Cricket. Then One Day International. Then the T20. However, like many other things, cricket is also getting lean and compact. Today, T10 is the new face of cricket. The usual rhetorical blame on cricket was that it took an entire day to conclude.
However, T10 has the ability to be concluded in just under 2 hours, thus making it comparable to other sports like Football and Hockey. It has the ability to provide blockbuster entertainment in a limited amount of time. The result? Newer leagues and thus newer opportunities for the upcoming cricketers.
5. New Academies in Tier II Countries: One particular problem that young players from tier-II cities and villages used to face was that they had to move to metro cities to get quality cricket coaching. This was troublesome for two reasons- a) parents had to relocate as well to look after their children, and b) hailing from villages or tier meant financial and cultural shock as the city lifestyle was drastically disparate.
In fact, major cricketers like Jhulan Goswami and MS Dhoni too had to travel long distances just to be able to attend training sessions. However, things have started to change for good. A number of academies and NGO are now opening in these regions to train talented young cricketing talent at a grassroot level. Many innovative talent hunts like MSG Talent Hunt are also taking national-level scouting program to these towns. As a result of all this, players hailing from these regions have access to better infrastructure which, thus, means that they stand a better chance of making a successful career in sports.