World Cup heroes: Rooted in Mumbai, starring in Melbourne

Ballabhgarh in Haryana and Bhadravati in Karnataka, are at a distance of 2059 km from each other on National Highway 4. There is not much in common between the former princely state up north, a land of the Jats, and the sleepy industrial town in the south – other than that they both have a population of about 2 lakh. They have even less in common with the metropolis of Mumbai or Kolkata. But when it comes to the World Cup, the good people of these cities and towns have one binding thread: They all proudly sent away their own, donning the India blue, to represent the country on cricket’s largest stage.

Eighty-five players have represented India at the 11 editions of the Cricket World Cup since that inaugural one in 1975. And they have come from the length and breadth of the country.

Mapping out the birthplaces of these players offers a perhaps unsurprising idea of the game’s cradles in the country – Mumbai, Chennai, Delhi and Bangalore alone have produced 30 World Cup cricketers. But as heartening is the representations for the smaller centres, the Ranchis and the Rajkots.

Click for an interactive graphic to see if your hometown has produced a World Cup cricketer, and how many there are.

It can also be seen that the number of Mumbai-born players in a team for any given edition has been falling, with none from the city in 2015.

And, there is the sobering reminder that neither Rajasthan nor Jammu and Kashmir, among a few other states, has sent a cricketer to the World Cup.

Click for an interactive graphic to see where players came from in each World Cup

It must be pointed out that that the maps depict the birthplaces of the cricketers, and not necessarily those cities that they call home. For example, Rahul Dravid was born in Indore, although he may now always be associated with Bangalore and Karnataka. And of course, there is Robin Singh, born at the other side of the world, in the Caribbean, who made Tamil Nadu home.

So, looking at the primary first-class teams represented might provide a more nuanced picture of India’s cricketing powerhouses. Here we see that even though Mumbai, the city, has no representative in 2015, Mumbai, the domestic side, has Ajinkya Rahane and Rohit Sharma keeping the flag flying high. Mumbai, 40-time Ranji Trophy winners, have nurtured 17 players, Delhi a step behind at 14.

Some players, of course, have represented multiple Ranji sides. Wisden India has taken into consideration their primary team.

Click for an interactive graphic on the players and their Ranji teams.

While most of these 85 players – 43 to be exact – had only one shot at glory, there were a precious few who were mainstays for India over multiple World Cups. Kapil Dev, India’s first World Cup-winning captain; Mohammad Azharuddin, who has led India in the most ODIs yet; Javagal Srinath, the country’s joint-highest wicket-taker at World Cups; and Sunil Gavaskar, him with the 10,000 Test runs, were part of four campaigns each, a reflection of their stewardship of Indian cricket. Sachin Tendulkar was part of six editions, but then again, he has long had a chapter in the record books for himself.

In recent times, Indian cricket has seen stakeholders explore new centres, Jammu & Kashmir playing David to Mumbai’s Goliath, and the likes of Assam among those rising to be taken notice of. The contours of these graphics may well change by 2019.

With inputs from Dileep V. This article first appeared in Wisden India.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *