“As a leader and someone people genuinely look up to and worship, no one comes close to MSD” – Preity Upala
Preity Upala is a noted Media personality, Geopolitical Analyst and an award-winning International Columnist who hosts her own show and appears as a regular radio and TV commentator internationally. Her expertise is on Foreign Policy, International Relations, Soft Power, Diplomacy and Women’s Empowerment.
Preity is a Cricket enthusiast and an ardent supporter of Indian Cricket. As a Cricket Analyst, she hosts her own show called ‘The Preity Experience’ as well as appearing on other news and sports shows. She is renowned for taking a Global perspective of the game and fusing it with a Geo-political bent. She is interviewing legends of the Game as well and her book on the Global Game will be published later this year.
You can reach her on Twitter: @ThepreityEffect, Instagram @Thepreity-effect and Youtube @The Preity Experience
What is the positive impact of this sport on your life?
Sports has been a great addition to my life. I grew up watching all kinds of sports and played several as well. I still enjoy watching the Olympics when it comes around. Specifically, Cricket has been fantastic to watch and enjoy, whether it was growing up in the middle east, as a student in Australia or as an adult in America.
My background is in the area of International relations, Foreign affairs, Diplomacy and conflict resolution and hence, I have a very unique perspective on Cricket. I view it with a different lens to most people when I write and do commentary and analysis on it. I think sport, in general, is a great leveller and in particular, Cricket has been incredible for India, financially as well as morally. IPL has done more for Indian Soft Power than its diplomats can ever do. The changing balance of power in the world is reflected in the changing of the baton with the game of Cricket Globally as well. India finds itself at the helm today and this is only a good thing for the Global Game.
Who is your favourite Men’s cricketer? And why?
It has to be the one and only Mahendra Singh Dhoni. To a Billion people, he is the indisputable GOAT in terms of a leader and wicket-keeper Captain.
I think the story of MSD is very much in sync with the story of Naya India (New India). It’s the story of a ticket collector on a train station in a little town in India who went on to become the greatest living legends of the game. To me, this is what India’s story is to me and what it should be quite frankly.
MS gave India two of the most iconic cricketing memories in the Indian cricketing history- the 2011 World cup win and the 2007 WT20 World cup win. When all is said and done, he is the only captain in the world to have won all the 3 1CC championships. He made the IPL and T20 cricket what it is in the world and 14 seasons later, he is still Mr IPL. Not enough can be said about his keeping skills and his reputation as the best finisher and master tactician the game has ever seen.
As a leader and someone people genuinely look up to and worship, no one comes close to MSD. His contribution has been immense and this is well opined upon by the international cricketing legends. The fact that MSD has retired and still is the highest-paid cricketer in the world is a testament to that.
Beyond cricket, he is a patriot with an incredible love and appreciation of the Indian Army and to me personally, that is even more important than just a game. How he conducts himself off the field is a real lesson in humility and grace. He is the greatest Ambassador for Cricket to the world.
Which venue would you love to visit and watch a cricket match live?
There are two stadiums where I would love to watch a live game. One is the Iconic Lord’s stadium in England, for the history and the tradition of the game.
And the other is of course, the new Modi stadium in India which will now be the hub of international cricket. There will be many big tournaments held there including the ODI World cup final most likely. The Modi stadium, I suspect will be hosting the biggest matches in Cricket in the future and this is great for Gujarat as well as India. Cricket belongs to India, to the Indian fans who alone will make sure it is relevant 100 years from now.
Has the board been a little ignorant towards women’s cricket? Do you feel that the efforts put in by the board aren’t enough for the development of Women’s Cricket?
As a society, we can all do better in the area of inclusion and diversity. The BCCI has done more to promote cricket than many other smaller boards as they simply have the resources to do so. Having said that, it is unreasonable to demand that Women’s Cricket deserves equal parity when the numbers and figures don’t reflect that. International tournaments are about supply and demand and it is a business at the end of the end. You cannot force people, Indian cricket fans or others, to watch and like women’s cricket. You need to make it competitive and appealing for them to take time out of their busy lives to do so. This pandemic has taught us that time is the most precious asset we have. Post pandemic, people will be even more mindful about how they choose to spend theirs. I think women’s cricket in India has a lot to offer the world and they must be the world leaders in this, which they are currently not.
What needs to stop, is the politicization of these issues. There has been a hijacking of these issues by various bodies and individuals that is simply not helpful to anyone. Women’s sport suffers the most. Today, Women’s Tennis enjoys great success as the WTA have made it very competitive and people turn out to pack stadiums to watch these ladies compete, Slam after Slam. The same must be done with Women’s cricket, especially in India but it needs to be organic and genuine.
Which contest do you enjoy watching the most whenever India play?
I like the ODI format the most as that is to me the pinnacle for Global Cricket to many Indians. Growing up, the ICC ODI World Cup was the cream with the cherry on top. The team that won that was truly the champion of global cricket.
I’m getting into the IPL, as I like a few of the franchises and a few players. It is definitely becoming very popular around the world and has the capacity to garner a larger global audience even from the non-cricket playing nations.
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