Cricket’s status and popularity in India

After the Ashes, cricket’s stock rose significantly in England. But even in September 2005, with most of the country drunk on Ashes fever – literally, in some cases – it probably only matched India’s insatiable appetite for the game.

This remarkable fact has been highlighted by Paul Coupar, who’s out there for The Wisden Cricketer and is kindly blogging for Cricinfo too. It makes quite startling reading:

And that appetite for cricket has not changed if Nagpur’s local Sunday paper, The Hitavada, is anything to go by. In a 16-page paper, there are 15 cricket pieces. Remarkably, one of them is headlined ‘Chappell has acknowledged receipt of email’. Over on the front page, the three lead stories are: ‘England Cook up a defiant story’, ‘Keep restraint, Pawar tells Chappell in surprise meet’ and, finally, the tiddling matter of President Bush snubbing a proposed nuclear deal with Pakistan.

I agree with Paul that the appetite for cricket has, in recent times, been somewhat gluttonous; Chappell-Ganguly-gate was unnecessarily long-winded, but it nevertheless demonstrates the unparalleled lust for cricket. Is there any other sport which binds a country’s people together as much as cricket does for India?

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