Cricket’s Journey to India – From Gentleman’s Game to Public Favourite
India is a cricket powerhouse and has been for a long time. When it comes to cricket, national pride has been strong ever since the 1983 Cricket World Cup, where India fought against all odds to make an inspiring victory. Nowadays, most bets are placed on cricket betting sites in India. It hasn’t always been like this – there was a time when the sport was only for the upper classes, and it was a symbol of social power. Since then, it has taken a long and winding journey to become the most popular sport for kids and adults alike.
Putting aside history for a moment, one must consider the aspects of the sport that make it popular. Cricket is by no means easier than other sports, but the rules and strategies are simple and can be grasped quickly. This, and the fact that on a casual level, it doesn’t require expensive equipment or specialized pitches, make it accessible to kids who want to learn from a young age, no matter their economic situation.
So, how did cricket make its way over the oceans to India? The sport was brought over even before the British Raj came into effect. The early 1700s saw a rise in the popularity of cricket amongst the upper classes, mostly in areas like Kolkata, where English merchants established trading settlements. The first evidence of the Calcutta Cricket and Football Club comes from 1792 but is thought to have sprung up about a decade earlier.
The sport became more and more popular during the British Raj due to the increased presence of a British population in the country, but that did not help spread the sport to the masses. In fact, the opposite happened. In 1864, the first ‘first-class’ cricket match took place, leading the sport to become a status symbol for the Indian elite during a time when seeming to be more like the British brought with it an air of superiority. It took a while for even first-class cricket to spread, with the Hindus starting to play first in 1907. But once the propagation started, domestic cricket began its journey to where we stand with cricket today.
With the Partition of India, things changed for the better. Teams based on ethnic origin were abolished, and India even beat England in 1952. It’s no wonder that the sport is a huge source of national pride: the national team has stood up to England, New Zealand and Australia, other massive cricket-playing nations, leading to a ‘golden age’ of Indian Cricket in the 70s. In the end, though cricket arrived in India as a result of colonization, the Indian people made it their own.