Interview of Cricket Fans (ICF) – 5

In Cricket, there are so many types of fans that we get to see. There are fans who love to watch Test matches and therefore they may watch domestic leagues like Ranji Trophy too, there are fans who love watching One Day Internationals, there are also fans who only watch T20 and therefore they may also watch franchise based leagues like IPL, BBL, PSL, CPL, BPL etc. Very seldom we get to see fans who watch everything and follow cricket wherever it is being played. I had the opportunity to have a chat with one of the greatest fan of cricket I have seen in my life, who follows not only international matches but also domestic tournaments. It is none other than Johns Benny.

Johns has been following cricket for more than 10 years and as you can see from his bio, cricket definitely has to be his first love.

Thank you so much for your participation in the interview,  can you share your earliest memories of watching Cricket while growing up? How did you fall in love with this sport?

I can recall few moments from 2004 India vs Australia test series, especially India defending a small total in Mumbai. Those days, In my home – we had only two channels with DD 1 and DD news so could able to watch India’s matches and ICC tournaments, then used to see the sports news in DD news, followed news paper and cut those articles and paste in a book. When it is summer vacation time – I used to always be at my mother’s home and there was cable, it was so special to watch WI home series during summer vacation and I had few good friends near my backyard so we used to play cricket daily in evening and for weekend from morning to evening. They played a big role then grand mother used to read the news paper when I was young and dish came during 2008-09 and since then I have been watching live cricket for most of the time. I didn’t have any other priority other than watching, playing cricket expect going for movies in theater when it releases mainly Malayalam.

In your previous bio on Twitter, you had written that your dream was to watch Cricket matches live in a stadium, have you been fortunate enough to watch any international match live?

Yes, on 4 occasions. I had watched ODI match between Australia vs India in 2007, England vs India in 2013, T20 match between NZ vs India in 2017 and Odi match between Wi vs Ind in 2018 – all happened in Kerala.

As a fan of Cricket, do you have a preference in terms of the format of the game? Do you think one format is greater than the other or all the formats are equal in your eyes?

All formats are equal for me but I like to see a contest even for a casual fan – if he needs to sit and watch whole day – there should be something happening and that makes any game special. Test faced some issues few years back and they are overcoming through these situation in last few years. In ODI – we have seen middle overs as dull phase for many people but with players like Morgan, Hetmyer, Stokes, Pooran, KL coming through the ranks – it has become exciting and bowling team’s using fast bowlers in middle overs had made some heat in the match. T20 is always fun and there will be contest. At the end of the day we need tight and thrilling finishes to remember for a long time.

What is the impact of IPL and T20 Cricket on domestic leagues such as Ranji Trophy, in your opinion?

I don’t think there is much bigger impact in Ranji Trophy – but their performance in these domestic tournament make them red hot in Ipl auction like an example with Abdul Samad – he did really well for Jammu last season and got picked by SRH. So it’s an inspiration to showcase their ex factor in any tournament. Looking as popularity point of view – we still see good crowd in Karnataka, Mumbai but not much in other states and this has been the story for many years with lots of Intl cricket and we have seen good crowds in SMAT at Surat so people still watch domestic but tough to go for Ranji matches and lots of people are covering through BCCI websites, apps and more.

Ever since T20 Cricket has arrived, it has put the Test format of the game in danger, how is this battle between the shortest format of the game and the longest format of the game going to pan out in the future?

Test cricket is going through a golden generation with fast bowlers and pitches favouring them. We have at least 3 or 4 quality pacers in each top sides – we are not getting much dull draws and lots of exciting matches or series over two year period. T20 has brought a change with players who tend to be more attacking or playing more shots but still teams have gritty players or players who takes time in the middle like Pujara, Sibley, Elgar, Kraigg Brathwaite and more. I think there should be a balance between formats but others than Top 3, many sides are not financially secured so tough to play more than 2 or 3 tests – ICC needs to bring a change or giving money or share to these team’s as Jason Holder Holder told it will be tough to survive for many smaller teams. I hope Test continues like this, cricket needs all three formats and even still many players like to known as test players but the bigger issue is that is he will be financially secured after retirement.

Apart from IPL, you have been following other leagues as well such as BBL, CPL, PSL, BPL etc. Which league, in your opinion, can come close to what IPL has been doing for years?

I like CPL a lot – WI players are the go to force for any T20 side and that is why they had won the WC twice but main issue has been fast bowling and PSL has truck load of fast bowlers but they have issue in batting and on experience as viewers with innovation it will be BBL but their main players will be in national duty so their quality with bat and ball is slightly less. So there are issues for most team’s and don’t think any league come closer to IPL especially no leagues has a free window like IPL. If you ask me which league I will enjoy more apart from IPL – it will be CPL and PSL.

You have been a massive CSK fan, your thoughts on this franchise?

I was a huge CSK fan from 2008, my brother was MI fan so it has been a fight and that made IPL more special in my home. The more love towards CSK came during the ban period – then I realized how much I loved that team and when they returned in 2018 was so special. One of my biggest dream is to watch a MI vs CSK match live from ground before MS retiring. One of the things I dislike will be finding some good talents and giving more exposure like MI did to many players but at the end of the day win is what matters and it’s MS team – he is running the show and he knows how to get through it and we have seen it many times.

Under the leadership of MSD, India has won almost everything a cricket fan would ask for, it started with the inaugural T20 World Cup edition, then they became no.1 in tests, then the 2011 World Cup happened, and the Champions Trophy in 2013. Share few words on Dhoni : The Captain.

Dhoni has been one of the most successful captains ever, his main quality has been reading the game and giving the full confidence to each player. His mental toughness like giving Joginder Sharma the final over, backing Ishant to do the job in CT when Morgan and Bopara were taking the match, then coming to bat at 5 in WC final. Then he makes players comfortable in his side. He has shown how to be calm, cool and another quality is that he stays away from everything happening outside and that is one of the toughest thing to do especially when you get worried about what others tell or what others are thinking about you.

It’s 2020 and India still seem to be struggling in swinging conditions in the longest format of the game specially with the bat. Imagine if you were the coach of the Indian Cricket Team, what measures would you take in order to counter this issue?

Every team has been struggling away from home and India is one of those teams who fought or won something away but still they are a  long way to compete vs great sides like 2000 Australia or 1980 West Indies. The main issue has been not finding a way to play swinging conditions or not getting the tail quickly. We have seen Pujara, Ashwin, Ishant played county and we have seen progress in their game especially playing in early summer in England helps to perform well in later half but still they couldn’t finish things during many times in last SENA phase but signs are good for the next cycle and with players like Gill, Saini, Kuldeep coming through ranks we can expect better results. BCCI has been doing lots of wonderful things like giving India A side to tour away and getting more experience. It might help in next phase so good things awaits for them and only thing is that to advice less matches for senior side. We have seen Indian team struggle at the end of the season during Feb-March for last few years and that is mainly due to too much cricket.

If you had to watch a cricket match for the last time in your life, which is that one contest amongst these will you be watching and why?
Australia vs England
India vs Pakistan
India vs Australia

This is really tough but as I said earlier, which is better contest, I will go for that – if it is currently, then I will prefer India vs Australia. Both side having excellent bowling unit and stronger batting with Smith, Labuschagne, Warner, Head, Kohli, Pujara, Agarwal, Rahane.

For this final question, I would like you to create not one but two All-time XI that will be taking on each other in the longest format of the game.

I will go with players I watched:

Hayden, Graeme Smith, Ponting, Sachin, Lara, Kallis, Gilchrist, Mcgrath, Warne, Murali, Shane Bond.

Cook, Williamson, Kohli, Smith, AB Devilliers, Ben Stokes, Mushi Rahim, Ashwin, Steyn, Cummins, Bumrah.

How good is it to have a fan of cricket amongst us who provides us regular updates of all things related to this sport. He has inspired me to not only watch international matches but also domestic tournaments like Ranji Trophy, Duleep Trophy and Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy. He has inspired me to watch this sport with a lot more depth.  It is this kind of passion and dedication that makes a true cricket fan and Johns is definitely one of them. He has literally blessed us with his presence on Twitter. That concludes this article. Hope you enjoyed reading it as there will be plenty of stuff that will be coming your way in the future. Follow me on Twitter – @bhavsarJ2_0

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