Cricket, Population and Nation

Right from childhood, when I watch Cricket matches, I pray for India to win. Especially major tournaments and world cups, I always wanted India to win at “any” cost. Why? Yes, you are right. It’s because I am in Indian. That’s not all. There was another reason why I always wanted India to win all matches and tournaments. What is that? Unlike any other nation, a win by India makes an incomparably huge population happy. I always used to say that India had the highest population among Cricket playing nations so India had to win. You don’t have to be intelligent to know this fact because we all know China doesn’t play Cricket. But, I always wanted to look at the exact numbers. Finally, I had some time today to look at it and come out with some great (!) conclusions. Here you go…

New Zealand
Sri Lanka
South Africa
West Indies
Rest of the world

What do you understand from the table above?
1. India has the highest population among the Cricketing nations. Known story! Go to the next point. :)
2. The total sum of all Cricketing nations’ population is much less than Indian population. Unknown story, right? Yeah! What does this mean? This means that we should be able to beat the world team any day. World team means… a team that is formed by bringing the best players from all nations!
3. Not just that – Indian population is 3.6 times bigger than the total sum of all Cricketing nations’ populations. What does this mean? It means that even the third eleven of India should be able to beat the world eleven. Is it possible today? Our third eleven may not even win Sri Lanka's third eleven!

Now tell me – Is it really worth celebrating our victories so much?

We should have produced 50 Australian teams and 380 West Indies teams. Then why are we not even able to produce one good team that can beat all these minnows (minnows in population!) "consistently"? Leave them. They are too far so they can have extraordinary skills. Let’s look at our own younger brothers. We should have produced 20 Sri Lankan teams and 7 Pakistan teams. Did we do? There was a time when Sri Lanka used to lose to Tamil Nadu team in a tournament called Gopalan Cup in Chennai. Today? Even Indian team wins them with great difficulty every time.

Leave all these. We should have at least five world class teams within India – North, South, East, West and Central zones. Each of them may have world class potential but what might be missing is the exposure to play in International arena. You just keep playing a mediocre team in international matches they will slowly get to the international standard, if they have the will. That is what happened to the Sri Lankan team, I guess. In my childhood, they were minnows like Kenya and Bangladesh now.

We should do away with Ranji Trophy matches where Sachin plays against Goa and Pondicherry teams to score triple hundreds against bowlers that can’t even quality for University teams in other states. Every time we lose an important series, we compare our lousy domestic format with Australia’s sensible six-team format. But, then again, once you start winning, problems get forgotten. I had actually written an exclusive post on these problems during the world cup time. Please check out it out in Cricket: Some Opportunities for Improvement.

Now let’s take one step backwards and look at the big picture which we don’t want to look at. We are not comfortable doing it. Is it only a problem for our performance in Cricket? I think, it’s a major problem in all walks of our life as a country. All our performances are screwed up because we deal with too many things with tooooo much people. I am not asking to split the nation but it’s worth breaking into multiple pieces for administrative purposes. At least five zones as suggested by Rajaji! Let’s be together where we have to be together. Let’s be together where we derive strength out of it. Like in military, research and all! Everything else could be decentralized. Including the corruption! Centralized looting can be loosened a bit. Let the state governments be able to do things of their interest. Why Singapore is able to achieve so much which none of the other Asian countries are able to do? It is because they have a smaller piece of land and a smaller population to manage. Why don’t we try that here as well? It may work wonders!


  1. India is no USA or Australia. Decentralization is always welcome. But in India question is not as much as 'what' as it is 'how'? After many delibrate discussions we divided our population into states based on languages we speak. There came some odds against the idea,but it remained effective for larger good. Now if we divide our diverse country into zones,question again will be raised 'how'? Contrary to other nations India is not identical to India itself. There is rural and urban India,there is secular and fanatic India,there is major and minor India,there is liberal and age-old India-all these living together without hint of contradiction.

    So problem for us is niether population nor its division;problem for us is the twisted identities our population lives with. As long as we don't come over this identity crisis nothing will work effectively.

  2. by that logic of numbers we should play in FIFA worldcup, and get a lot of Olympic golds...our football club teams are zonal...they should be good enough to beat eng premier teams....but the problem is the mindset and the infrastructure...barring cricket people dont see money in other sports...that is the reason cricket is still better than other sports...

    interesting statistics...thought provoking post :)

  3. @Rohan- I am okay with language based division of states. It has actually helped us manage things better. Otherwise, we would have had more problems within each state. Our assemblies would have been all the more nasty.

    What I am suggesting now is grouping of these states into five zones for administrative ease. What is more important than this is the empowerment of states. Only this can put an end to the dynasty politics in the center. The problem is, we will have 29 dynasties instead of one, which is better. We won't get sold to another nation in that case.

    Agree with your comment on too many identities. It's more problematic than the population problem. This new grouping/division, I thought, would help us handle this identity problem better. :)

  4. @Sub- Agree. But, I think, football is not our cup of coffee. Had written a post about that also earlier - :)

    I would say (not for argument-sake!) we would have been worse if we had not had zonal teams in football.

    True. We don't do anything that doesn't have good money. If there is good money, the whole country would be in it. Computer Science in education is an example for that attitude of ours. :)

  5. That sure is a great piece of analysis. But the solution of smaller units for better results might not work for the political units. Having split the states into smaller units has not made for better governance but only more people the opportunity to enjoy fruits of power!

  6. @Zephyr- Thank you. Generally, logically speaking... smaller units should make things easier to manage! We think it may not work here because the democracy itself has failed in our land - irrespective of the level. Yes, we have enough case studies to prove your point as well. Panchayat Raj is the latest example. We have distributed corruption instead of power! :(


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