As it is true in all of India, cricket is the most loved sport in Bangalore. Many of the best national cricket players for India come from Bangalore, including E. A. S. Prasanna, Javagal Srinath, Gundappa Vishwanath, Syed Kirmani, Roger Binny, Venkatesh Prasad, Sunil Joshi, Robin Uthappa, Vinay Kumar, and Abhimanyu Mithun, as well as Rahul Dravid and Anil Kumble, both of which have become Indian cricket team captains. Bangalorean children play gully cricket in the streets and many public playing fields all over the city. Those who will grow up and make it to the national leagues will eventually get to play at the Chinnaswamy Stadium, one of the major cricket arenas in India where several World Cup series were held, including the 1987 Cricket World Cup, 1996 Cricket World Cup and 2011 Cricket World Cup. This 55,000-seat stadium is also home to India’s National Cricket Academy.
For the unfamiliar, cricket is a bat-and-ball game that looks very much like baseball, but instead of a diamond, the game is played on an oval-shaped field. The pitch is 22 yards away and the ball is bounced towards the batsman. A score is made when the runner makes it to the other end of the pitch to touch the crease. Regulated internationally by the International Cricket Council, cricket is very popular in Europe, Australia, the West Indies and India. It is the unofficial national sport of England, Jamaica, Barbados, Bermuda, and Grenada.
It is so popular in Bangalore that the country’s four national teams are actually based in the city. They are the Bangalore Royal Challengers, Bangalore Hi-fliers, Bangalore Brigadiers and Provident Bangalore. This capital city of Karnataka state is also home to elite cricket clubs such as the exclusive Bangalore Club, Century Club, and Bowring Institute.
India acknowledges the fact that Bangalore plays an important role in the development of the sport, as the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) established the National Cricket Academy (NCA) at the Chinnaswamy Stadium in 2000. The goal of the academy is to “improve the standard and safety of cricket in India at all levels through high-quality specialist coaching and coach education, and optimal use and development of sports sciences.” It scientifically trains coaches and young talented cricketers to become the very best in the country. After only three years in existence, the academy was acknowledged as a center of excellence when it comes to cricket training. NCA students enjoy the privilege of improving their cricket skills at this major stadium. They also make use of cement practice wickets, three synthetic wickets, four bowling machines, a gym, lecture hall and clinic.
Chinnaswamy Stadium is located near the famous Cubbon Park on Queen’s Road and MG Road. This more than 40-year-old stadium was used to be called the Karnataka State Cricket Association (KSCA) stadium and was renamed after M. Chinnaswamy, the former president for both KSCA and BCCI. The stadium is owned by the state government of Karnataka and is on lease to KSCA for 99 years. Not only is it the prime venue for major national and international cricket events, but it also hosts concerts and cultural events.