Interview of Cricket Fans – 179 – INDIA


First of all, I would like to thank you for your participation in this interview, tell us about yourself and your early memories associated with Cricket.

First of all, thank you so much for this opportunity, Jay! This does mean a lot for a cricket fanatic like me.

Cricket and I weren’t love at first sight. I used to dislike cricket when I was young, to be honest. Maybe because my dad watched it all the time which meant my cartoons were compromised. It’s very interesting how my interest in cricket developed. I was around 9 years old and I was very interested in table tennis. I had played state and national level tournaments by then. But as things would have it, I changed my school when I was in 4th grade.

On my first day, I was told that the school’s cricket academy had invited Indian all-rounder, Irfan Pathan as a guest speaker for the children at the academy. I was extremely blown away because of course, I had seen him on TV and it was fascinating for a 9-year-old Aneesh to see a celebrity visit his new school on his first day. But to my great dismay, I was told that the children who were enrolled in the Cricket Academy were the only ones allowed to attend the function. Which meant I had no chance to meet Irfan Pathan on my first ever day at my new school. It was very disappointing and this was the first thing that I told my parents about when I went back home. That is when I decided I want to enrol myself in the Cricket Academy at school. My parents were more than happy to oblige and that was when I decided that Table Tennis would take a backseat and I decided to take up cricket.

The move proved to be of great value as I went on to play for my school team at various competitions like the DSO, Zonals and State level tournaments. I was also selected to be part of the school team which went on a Tour Of England when I was 15 years old. The experience holds a great value and a special place in my heart.

Which aspect of cricket do you like or enjoy the most?

I think perhaps the beauty of cricket lies in the numerous formats in which it can be played. All of them are extremely different from each other. Tests have their own flair, their own charm. ODI’s perhaps, are very balanced, they last for a perfect amount of time for an average cricket watcher. T20’s have brought in more viewers to the sport than ever before. The format has helped the sport financially and also in terms of viewership engagement. So, as I said, the sport caters to all age groups and gives people the liberty to pick and choose their format and see the same simple game packaged in different ways. It’s very interesting to see someone like Rishabh Pant or a Joss Buttler play red-ball cricket in their own way, making things even more interesting.

Tell us who your favourite player is and how long have you been following him/her.

My love for the Indian Cricket Team never really allowed me to have a favourite player, I love all of them with all my heart.

However, I remember being awestruck by Suresh Raina’s batting back in 2010 at the T20 WC which was held in South Africa. It was perhaps when I had just started to watch the sport. I feel he was one of the most talented and gifted southpaws to have ever played the game.

Then, of course, there is Mahendra Singh Dhoni. Many people felt he wouldn’t be able to survive at the international level given his technique etc but he showed all of them that if you believe in your abilities, the sky’s the limit. To be honest, I like him much more than as a player and the accolades he brought to the nation. The way he conducted himself as a player, captain of the Indian Team, it was simply magnificent. He is one of those ‘once in a generation’ type of players.

Currently, I love watching Rohit, Virat bat as well. Shreyas Iyer, Shubman Gill, Pant too look like individuals who can be future stars.

However, Rohit particularly, has a soft spot in my heart. The lazy elegance, the effortlessness, the nonchalant way of his batting makes me feel batting is the easiest thing to do in this world. If Rohit and Virat were playing simultaneously at two different grounds, I would pay double to watch Rohit bat. Don’t get me wrong, Virat is of course the better all-format player. He is a beast, to say the least. But I have this weird attraction towards Rohit’s art of batting. I hope he translates his success from the white-ball formats to Tests as well. He is just too much of a class to not succeed in red-ball cricket.

Among women, it is exciting to watch Smriti Mandhana, Shafali Verma, Jemimah bat. Both are supremely gifted batters and have amazing strokeplay. I genuinely hope the BCCI has a women’s IPL in place for these talented women.

However, I am extremely disappointed how the so called fans on social media keep pulling each other’s favourite players down. It is unreal to see how people have so much hate and toxicity within them. For many of them, they would rather see India lose than seeing their non-favourite player playing well. It’s very disappointing to see that. The IPL divide is getting real and it’s unfortunate to see.

Do you enjoy the shorter formats of the game or the longest format of the game?

I think Test Cricket is the real deal. Primarily because it gives a balanced competition between the bat and the ball. You can stuff your team with as many batters you want but at the end of the day, you need 20 wickets to win the game. A lot of people think that test cricket is boring at times. For me, I am extremely fascinated by the ‘O-ooh’s and the a-aah’s’ that go around every time the ball passes the bat. I think what makes the difference is that test cricket often does not only rely on skill, a lot of it depends on the mental character of an individual and also the team. I was extremely happy that the ICC finally came up with the World Test Championship. Although I don’t really agree with many of the rules and the point system, I do feel the Championship will give greater relevance to test cricket

However, that being said, I am slightly disappointed with the way test cricket is being packaged. If you see highlights of a few greatest matches all the broadcasters show are boundaries and wickets.

If a bowler has bowled a great spell and hasn’t got a wicket but instead has helped the other wicket-taking bowler set that up the batsman it is nowhere to be seen in the highlights package. Not only does it demean the effort of the bowler but it also shows only a fabricated part of the entire story that had occurred on a given day.

I also don’t like the slander of T20 cricket at times. Many people think that T20 cricket is going to bring about the death of Test cricket. However, I disagree with them. It is because of T20 cricket, players like Rishabh pant have risen to the occasion and finished off matches like he would in a T20 game. If at all T20 has made test cricket more entertaining as teams now look to go for a win on the last there rather than settling for a tame draw. I don’t see T20 cricket as an obstruction to test cricket in the future. It is because of T20 cricket that new viewers are now engaging with the sport.

Thoughts on India’s tour of SL? Which player impressed you the most?

I think the two started off in a great manner,  the form shown by Prithvi and Surya was phenomenal, to say the least. SKY has played well for a long time on the domestic circuit and is finally getting his due at the international level. Slightly concerned with Hardik’s form but he is a champion player and will get back in no time. It was a good learning curve for most of our youngsters, who are used to playing on flat IPL decks. I am particularly happy for Sri Lanka,  this will give them great motivation and confidence. It will help them to start the process of becoming a global force, something that they were just a few years back.  A strong Sri Lanka will only help International cricket become more interesting. I hope they go from strength to strength after this series.

This test series seems to be a promising one as India would look to dominate England this time around, your thoughts and predictions?

I think this series would be closer than what it was last time around. I think in 2018, we played good cricket in patches. The scoreline might show otherwise, one might feel we were outplayed all the time but I feel we missed out on capitalizing on a few crucial moments in the few tests. This time around, our success would be dependent on how well our middle order plays. Ajinkya Rahane and Cheteshwar Pujara are stalwarts of the game. They definitely don’t deserve to be dropped yet. However, they haven’t been as consistent as they would have liked to be. With the likes of KL Rahul showing good form in the warm-up match, the middle order does look solid. I am looking forward to seeing how India uses Siraj with the new ball and also Shardul as an all-rounder.

I think everyone in the team has something to prove. Right from Rohit wanting to establish dominance in red-ball cricket overseas, to Mayank wanting to make a good comeback in absence of Gill. Bumrah too has to put behind a disappointing WTC Final. Virat has a century drought to end too, this series I reckon will either make a few careers and might as well disturb a few too given that this is the beginning of a new WTC cycle.

I am either spot on with predictions or I am terribly wrong. But I feel India has a solid chance, this time. I have a prediction in mind but I don’t want to jinx it for India, hahaha!

What would your lineup for the T20 World Cup be?

Rohit Sharma
KL Rahul
Virat Kohli
Surya Kumar Yadav / Shreyas Iyer
Rishabh Pant
Hardik Pandya
Ravindra Jadeja
Shardul Thakur
Bhuvneshwar Kumar
Jasprit Bumrah
Yuzvendra Chahal / Rahul Chahar

12th man: M. Siraj

Thank you for reading. Please share the article if you liked it. Follow me on Twitter and Instagram to make sure you don’t miss out on any cricket related interviews.

Twitter – @bhavsarJ2_0
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