Future looks bright for cricket in Dindigul
Although the league is still in its infancy, one of the biggest positives to emerge out of the Tamil Nadu Premier League is its ability to take the cricket to the districts and expose places that otherwise don't get to see too much cricket. The NPR Cricket Ground in Natham is one such place that has reaped the rewards of taking the game away from Chennai.
Dindigul is not renowned for producing too many cricketers but has been put on the radar of possibly even hosting IPL and international matches thanks to the TNPL. Having a picturesque ground that has proved to be the ideal setting and a great surface that has something for everyone, the NPR ground in Natham, which is 30 kms away from Dindigul has been universally lauded by everyone.
In an exclusive chat with Sportskeeda, Dindigul District Cricket Association (DDCA) secretary N Vengatraman spoke about the TNPL, the stadium in Natham, the local players who have taken the opportunity with both hands and the future of cricket in the area.
How nice is it to see the crowd coming in and showing their support?
It is really nice because it was only in Chepauk that we have seen these type of matches, crowd, and floodlights. After creating this beautiful ground, it is because of the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association (TNCA) and the TNPL the entire crowd from in and around villages have come in.
What do you think is the reason behind the packed crowd in Dindigul?
The village people they have to travel to Chennai to see this kind of matches, especially music and everything and so they are really enjoying. For the village people, there is no entertainment in and around Dindigul like malls or something. These type of matches really rejuvenate these village people.
There is a demand for every match. Moreover, everybody in and around they want to enter the ground in order to see the players. Few you can say, they want to see the atmosphere here, enjoy the music and everything. But 70 to 75 percent of the people they want to see the cricket they are playing here. More over if it is the team from Dindigul or Madurai playing then the people from these places come and support the team so it is nice.
The distance it takes to reach the ground from the city doesn't seem to be bothering the fans, does it?
It is not distance because in cities like Chennai or Mumbai you have to travel 30 minutes or 45 minutes. The same time it takes to get from Dindigul to Natham or from Madurai to Natham it takes one hour. There is not much difference in the matches conducted at Chennai or Mumbai in terms of travel from the hotel to the ground.
What about the ground itself, that looks so picturesque?
The moment the Punjab team first came here and two years later when Yuvraj Singh and Harbhajan Singh came, they immediately told the same thing, "Dharamsala in Tamil Nadu". They started taking selfies also. So it is God's grace that it is situated in and around this hills.
Every player who has played here only has good things to say about this ground and loves it. How great is that to hear?
Extremely satisfactory, very pleased and very happy on hearing the words like this because we have traveled from a long way to get here. Dindigul is not a big city, so being here in this type of ground, it really makes us very proud. TNCA plays a major role in bringing our ground to the international map.
A few words about the outfield that looks so green?
This wicket and outfield it has been maintained lush. It is because of the management of the NPR group of institutions. The whole support that they are rendering here, along with the curator Mr. Karthikeyan, the administrator Mr. Sivakumar and the DDCA people have all joined together and helped to bring these type of matches.
So how did it all begin? With respect to the staging of matches.
Initially, we started with city vs districts, then junior state matches and next year. The entire credit goes to TNCA, especially Mr. Palani who has been a pillar of strength and support to our association and NPR also. Because he had advised a lot of things, stage by stage, one by one, what to do next in this ground, we have done it with the support of the NPR group.
You've already several Indian players including Gautam Gambhir come to the ground. Which can only be a good thing to raise the profile of the stadium.
Before that also, Virender Sehwag and VVS Laxman came to the ground for sports day functions. Initially, the first sports day when the cricket ground was ready, it was inaugurated by Lakshmipathy Balaji.
What does the future hold for this NPR college ground in Natham?
We are eagerly waiting for the international matches. Not only international matches, IPL matches also. We are eagerly awaiting it and I think it is possible. That is one thing because it is in our hands if the CSK management decides to host the matches in Dindigul, they can. The only drawback is that we have to have a capacity of at least 15,000. That I think maybe done with the help of TNCA because TNCA only has done a lease with the NPR for 20 years.
How does having a ground like this benefit the future of cricket in Dindigul?
Definitely, because more kids and junior cricketers get motivated because of matches being conducted here. Their parents, they are coming and watching, players and junior cricketers are coming and they will start having aspirations of becoming a cricketer. Already we have produced two Ranji cricketers and definitely, it will not take much time I think. We expect one India cricketer to come from Dindigul.