Cricket

Future of Indian domestic cricket is in districts

Virgin market: A TNPL cricket match in progress at NPR Engineering College cricket ground near Natham in Dindigul district.

Virgin market: A TNPL cricket match in progress at NPR Engineering College cricket ground near Natham in Dindigul district.  

Cricketers delighted to showcase their skills before a full house

Away from the city and a breezy drive from Natham - a small town more famous for its Mariamman temple than cricket - nestles the quaint NPR College ground flanked by mountains, trees and a lovely pavilion with a clock on top.

On Tuesday, a carnival atmosphere prevailed inside the stadium. People had come in large numbers, many of them from the nearby villages, to watch Qualifier II of the TNPL between Dindigul Dragons and Siechem Madurai Panthers.

The temporary stands were packed, and people were swinging to the rhythm of a game featuring several prominent Tamil Nadu cricketers. The crowd applauded with all their might, danced, and greeted every announcement, via loudspeaker, with cheers. When the cheergirls waltzed, many in the stands attempted a few nifty steps too.

Contrast this with the ambience in domestic games, across formats, where cricketers, even celebrated international stars, play before empty stands. Ask the cricketers here and they are delighted to be showcasing their skills before a full house. It lifts their spirit, motivates them, adds spice to the contest.

The spectators in the big cities are indifferent to domestic cricket and the TNCA has got it right by moving a majority of TNPL games from the city to the districts. For the TNPL too, there was greater enthusiasm in Tirunelveli and Dindigul (Natham) than Chennai. And next year Coimbatore will be added to the list of venues.

The joy on the faces of spectators, journeying long distances to get a slice of cricket, here will be etched in memory. The future of Indian domestic cricket might lie in the districts. The crowds come in numbers and the cricketers are not forced to play before a few officials, scribes and a dog.

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Printable version | Feb 25, 2020 9:49:23 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/cricket/future-of-indian-domestic-cricket-is-in-districts/article29099714.ece

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