Top five cricket-crazy destinations
Cricket will be high on the agenda this summer, with the World Cup taking place on home soil from 30 May to 14 July, followed shortly after by the latest chapter in the 137-year Ashes rivalry between England and Australia. While not every country is privvy to this great sport, it does reach the four corners of the globe, from England, Wales, and Ireland in the north, to Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa in the south, the Asian giants of India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka in the east, and the West Indies in the west.
Few sports have the colour, passion and tension of international cricket. From the fancy dress-clad devotees of England's Barmy Army to the boisterous and partisan ranks of an Indian cricket crowd with their homemade banners, a day at the cricket can be a real feast for the senses – making it a great excuse to pay a visit.
If you fancy exploring some of cricket's far-flung outposts, check out the Citybond team's guide to the world's top five cricket-crazy destinations.
We really couldn't start with any other country. Cricket is the most popular sport by far in this nation of 1.3 billion people. India has more Test cricket grounds than any other country, with 28 of them, but games aren't confined to these lofty venues. Wander the streets of any village, town or city and you'll come across people playing in parks and squares or even just on the street. If you want to strike up a conversation while you're in India, just mention Sachin Tendulkar. The legendary batsman, and the all-time highest run scorer in international cricket, is practically a god to Indian cricket fans.
England's fiercest cricketing rivalry is with Australia, which makes the country an absolute must-visit for English cricket fans. If you’re a fan, you'll want to watch a match while you're Down Under, but also take the time to check out some of Australia's quirkier cricketing tourist attractions. At Narrikup Cricket Club in Western Australia, you can visit what is believed to be the world's only cricket bat fence, comprising hundreds of donated bats - many of which were signed by players after they scored a century. The star of the show is a gigantic 8.5-metre bat that takes pride of place next to the clubhouse.
Cricket is the second-most popular sport in South Africa and it boasts a cricket ground in which you can get your cricket and sightseeing fix together: Newlands in Cape Town is situated at the foot of Table Mountain, providing a spectacular backdrop to the sporting action. It’s also worth knowing that top English players like Kevin Pietersen, former captain Andrew Strauss and Basil D'Oliveira, recognised as one of England's best-ever all-rounders, hailed from the Rainbow Nation. Be sure to mention this as often as possible during your visit!
From the mid-1970s to the early 1990s the West Indies team were the best in the world, fired on by a terrifying fast-bowling attack and brilliant batsmen like Viv Richards and Brian Lara. They may have fallen away in recent years, but the Windies remains one of the greatest places in the world to watch cricket and mingle with dedicated fans. What better way to spend a day than sitting back in the stands at Arnos Vale Stadium on St Vincent, metres from the warm, turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea? And don't miss the West Indies Cricket Heritage Centre on Grenada, with memorabilia including one of the shirts worn by Lara when he hit his record-breaking score of 501.
Given that we began this article with India, we simply had to finish it with their rivals, Pakistan. Matches between the two teams are some of the most-viewed sporting events in the world, with an estimated one billion people tuning in to watch them face off in the 2015 Cricket World Cup. Some of the greatest cricketers of all time have represented Pakistan, from Shoaib Akhtar - the first bowler to break the 100 mph barrier - to the legendary new-ball combo of Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis. Former all-rounder Imran Khan was so beloved that he became the country's prime minister. It's hard to imagine the same thing happening with Ian Botham in the UK!
Wherever you plan on travelling to this year it’s good to know that Citybond Suretravel is committed to providing you with the highest level of protection to ensure you are safe and secure 24 hours a day when away.
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