Popularity of cricket in India stumps Irish novelist

PTI| Updated: Jan 19, 2014, 21:32 PM IST

Jaipur: Cricket as a sport is not as popular in other parts of the world as in India, said Irish novelist, Joseph O` Neil.

"Cricket is a national obsession in India, it has always been so. There is no `gully cricket` in rest of the world," Neil told PTI on the sidelines of the annual Jaipur Literature Festival here today.

The 50-year-old author examines the sport in vivid detail in his fiction "Netherlands" based on the story of an aspiring cricketer.

"I have observed how the sport has changed in the past decades. It wasn`t this big ever. It is still not big in the US but the sport has a huge following in India," he said.

No other country`s population follows cricket as a prime time show on television or as an over the dining table discussion, its just simply huge in India, the author pointed out.

According to Neil, cricketers became `superstars` in India due to the sport`s popularity in the country.

"Sachin Tendulkar is known as a superstar everywhere. But in the US, very few people will know about him, other than New York where Indian population can be found," he said.

The author said the the scene in other countries was totally different.

"The scenario in the world of cricket in United States is completely different. In the US, cricket is incomprehensible. Lots of problems exist within the national cricket team. The sport is disorganised and divided into several nationalities and hence its difficult to unite as a team."

The author, who believes that there is a history of writing about cricket in different countries, said that in connection with the sport in America it was important to groom individuals.

"Better stadiums and better facilities are required to motivate youngsters to play the game," he said.

Neil`s book which was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize, concerns the life of a Dutchman living in New York in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, who takes up cricket and starts playing at the Staten Island Cricket Club.