Indian parents, traditionally, have had one clichéd expectation from their Australian-born kids – to excel at school and to make it to medical school.
Lately though, a second breed of Indian parents has been cropping up – those who dream of seeing their kids play cricket at the highest level for Australia. I belong to this new breed of cricket-tragic parents – I can (just about) live with my son not going to medical school, but the thought of my son not being a cricket lover is extremely sour.
Two years ago, as my son Arjun turned six, I thought it was time for him to wake up to the wonderful world of cricket and make it his life-long passion (and I am the one who usually preaches to his friends to not impose their dreams on their kids. Ah, whatever).
So I turned our modest driveway into a cricket pitch and began daily ‘coaching’ sessions for Arjun. Only a couple of days into our training drills, and we were both fed up of each other – Arjun, for having a dad who demanded the perfect straight drive from a six-year-old who had only held the bat for two days; and me, for Arjun’s lack of ability to do so. His mum intervened and the training sessions were abandoned (indefinitely).
So I moved on to contemplating other ideas to get Arjun hooked to cricket. I tried to get him to watch a Test match with me on TV. He was glued – for four minutes and thirty seven seconds.
I then lured him to a one-day game, hoping that the colourful outfits and the white ball would do the trick. This time, his attention span gave in after the first powerplay period ended.
I looked up to the heavens in despair, seeking a sign. The gods must have been listening, because something in me said, give it one more try.
The Big Bash League (BBL) was in full swing and I was able to score tickets for us to watch the Melbourne derby between the Renegades and the Stars.
It was the perfect introduction to cricket that I had been seeking for Arjun. A packed stadium brimming with colour and noise, and the entire razzmatazz of a T20 cricketing encounter had Arjun hooked at first sight. The fireworks that erupted after every boundary, the song and dance, and the cheers from the crowd had him spellbound as he warmed up to a game that his dad so desperately wanted him to love.
And this is how Australia’s Big Bash League, promoting the shortest version of the game, has won the hearts of cricket lovers across the country.
The BBL offers hard-fought T20 encounters that are spectacular in design and delivery, appealing to adults and kids alike. It is slick, fast paced, and makes for a perfect family outing on bright summer evenings.
The fact that Cricket Australia promotes BBL as a family-friendly event, differentiates it from other T20 leagues around the globe. It is a clean event that dishes out high-quality T20 games played out in picturesque stadiums with a singular view of attracting young kids into the game. In a way, it is the most potent tool to tap into the real grassroots for future talent. In times when the future of Test cricket is being debated, the T20 format offers a far more attractive platform to grow the engagements of kids in the game.
So, just like I did, take your kids out to a game when this year’s BBL gets underway and let them experience this spectacle of cricket. You won’t be disappointed. I promise.