Mumbai: The Epicentre Of Indian Cricket?
Updated: May 17
In a cricket mad country with a population of 1.3 billion people it’s always going to be difficult to narrow down an epicentre of the sport. However, when that city was the birthplace of one of the greatest cricketers of all time in Sachin Tendulkar, you’re going to wonder what’s in the water.
In terms of straight facts and figures, Mumbai cricket team has won the Ranji Trophy 41 times, 33 times more than any other team, their IPL team; the Mumbai Indians has won the competition 5 times in the short history of the Premier League including this year (2020), they also won the short lived Champions League T20 twice. They have provided names such as Sunil Gavaskar, Ravi Shastri, Farokh Engineer, Vijay Merchant, Wasim Jaffer, Dilip Vengsarkar and the aforementioned Tendulkar. Two words spring to mind: serious batting.
6 Indian Test Captains were born in the city more than any other city in India. In addition to the players who have gone on to represent India, 3 more have gone on to represent England including bodyline series captain; Douglas Jardine. With this pedigree it is little wonder the side has been successful in domestic competitions as it has been.
Mumbai lies in the region of Maharashtra and is it's capital during them summer whilst Nagpur becomes its capital in winter. If you widen the parameters of the home of Indian cricket, Maharashtra as a whole has produced even more cricketers! For the sake of pinpointing the centre I thought I'd stick to just Mumbai!
Mumbai is also home to the Wankhede Stadium which international viewers will know well as the home ground of the Mumbai Indians and as a regular international ground. The ground famously has a feverish atmosphere of excitement.
This was the site of Ravi Shastri’s 6 sixes in an over, the 2011 World Cup Final and Tendulkar’s final Test Match. In more recent times it was the site of Tendulkar’s superstar successor, Virat Kohli’s 235 against England in their 2016/17 tour.
Even before the Wankhede became the main ground in Mumbai (and when Mumbai was Bombay), the Bombay Gymkhana held the first Test Match in India in 1933. The ground that succeeded the Gymkhana, The Brabourne Stadium, held the first T20 International in India in 2007. The Brabourne still hosts international matches as well as IPL games, making Mumbai one of very few cities in the world to have two world class cricket venues in the same city.
Away from the official playing grounds of India’s second city, cricket is played on every patch of grass, every empty street, every rooftop and every school yard. These are the breeding grounds for Mumbai and India’s next cricketing heroes following in the footsteps of some of India’s best.
The 12 million strong Mumbaikar are obsessed with cricket and their support of their city comes to a peak when they take on the Chennai Super Kings. CSK is the second most successful side in IPL history and they often find themselves locking horns with the Mumbai Indians and so a rivalry has been born over the years.
Naming a cricketing capital of India is extremely controversial particularly given the steadfast pride that Indian’s hold for their regions but it is difficult to deny that Mumbai’s cricket history has its roots interwoven with that of India’s and will do for many years to come.
But what do you think? Is Mumbai the home of Indian Cricket?
Our all-time made in Mumbai XI
Farokh Engineer (WK)