Characters like Ben Stokes and Virat Kohli keeping the game alive: Dilip Vengsarkar
Former India skipper and current Mumbai Cricket Association Vice-President Dilip Vengsarkar believes that personalities like Ben Stokes and Virat Kohli are needed to bring the crowds to the stadium
There is fear among lovers of the game that Test cricket will slowly drift off into oblivion if urgent steps are not taken. Current Mumbai Cricket Association Vice-President and former India captain Dilip Vengsarkar feels that the game is safe as long as personalities like England all-rounder Ben Stokes and India skipper Virat Kohli are there.
The cricket legend is not worried and believes that audiences come to the stadium for ‘personalities’. He points that MCA is readying for a good turnout at the Wankhede stadium for the fourth India vs England Test since people want to watch Virat and Stokes. The 60-year-old said, “It’s very important to have personalities to keep the game alive. We had cricketers like Vivian Richards. People would throng the ground to watch him play. Similarly, players like Stokes and Kohli get people into the stadium. People will come to watch such personalities even if it is a dead rubber.”
Mumbai cricketers are known for being ‘khadoos’. While Mumbai lad Ajinkya Rahane may have seen a dip in form — he has scored 13, 1, 23, 26 and 0 at an average of 12.60 during the ongoing series vs England, but Vengsarkar is confident that the local boy will come good at ‘home’. The former chairman of the national selection committee said, “The law of averages suggests that Rahane is due for a big score and he will score a big hundred at Wankhede.”
On the topic of khadoos cricketers coming out of Mumbai’s stables, ‘DBV’ feels the next one who should make it to the international stage will be talented batsman Shreyas Iyer.
While Wankhede stadium has been a lucky ground for the English cricket team, Vengsarkar feels it won’t be the case this time around since this team is capable of beating any team on any wicket. He refused to divulge any clues as to the mature of the pitch for the Test, saying that the nature of the wicket isn’t important since good teams can win on any surface.
He was all praise for the Wankhede crowd and felt that they were one of most cultured and educated in terms of cricket anywhere. He said, “Mumbai has a long history linked to cricket. Mumbai is the headquarters of cricket and has the culture to understand the game. People here cheer for the best cricket, even it is for the opposition.”
This he attributes to the fact that cricket is a way of life in the city that sees MCA organizing around 150 tournaments in the city -- from school to club to corporate cricket. The ‘Colonel’ believes that that is the highest number of tournaments organized by any association in any city in the world.
He also believes that the tournaments provide exposure and experience to young cricketers and nurtures talent.
Well, some of these talented youngsters – 3000 school students to be exact – will be at the Wankhede cheering Team India on when the fourth Test begins. MCA has provided free passes to school students who are participating in the inter-school Harris and Giles Shield elite division.
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