Indians play cricket matches wherever they get space. This is true especially in big cities where it is extremely difficult to find open spaces to play sport. Cricket is played practically everywhere, be it on a street or inside a classroom or in a local maidan (playground). The passion for the game shown in India is infectious. Local maidans hosts a lot of serious matches and the prospective players hone their skills. Players aspire to play for India and put in many hours daily to perfect their skills. Here, we will look at the differences between playing in local playgrounds and international stadiums:
Number of matches
On local playgrounds, a lot of matches are played simultaneously and the best pitches are usually on a first-come-first-serve basis. The iconic Azad Maidan in South Mumbai has 22 cricket pitches and at times, 22 matches are being played simultaneously.
In international stadiums, the ground size is massive and hosts a single match at a time. Everyone’s attention is focused on one game. There are many pitches in the central square (typically 4-8), but at any given time only one of them is used.
In local maidans, even a small open space is used as a practice area. Makeshift nets are set up and players make the best use of the space that is available to them.
Most international stadiums have designated practice areas inside the stadium complex, but outside the main playing arena. Some of the older stadiums have a couple of practice pitches inside the main playing arena as well.
Anybody walking around the maidan becomes an audience for the game. They do not have designated seating areas and most of the audience watches the game by standing inside the maidan. Typically, many matches are being played at a given time, so the audience has options and can watch any game of their choice.
In international stadiums, there are proper designated seating areas and barriers which separate the crowd from the playing arena. For international matches, the stadium is full and the whole crowd is intently watching the match. With many eyes tracking the game, there is a lot of pressure on players from the home team to perform.
At maidans, the rules are tweaked depending on the playing location and player availability. Boundary location varies as per the pitch location on the maidan. If there is an obstacle on the ground like a tree and a batsman hits it, a designated number of runs are given. At times, the umpire is from batting side. Matches are also played with hard tennis balls.
In stadiums, standard cricket rules apply and all the facilities are in place. Rules are rules. The boundaries are pre-defined. There is a neutral umpire in place. Matches are played with a cork ball and every member of the team wears the team uniform and the batsmen play after wearing full cricketing equipment.
The players who toil daily on these maidans aspire to play for their first class team and eventually the national team. This is what drives them to continue playing in these conditions and be recognised by the selectors and talent scouts.
First class cricketers who play in these international stadiums aspire to play for the national team and those in the national team want to perform for the nation and play for the country. The dreams and aspirations get bigger.