In India, cricket fans are not just fans, they are fanatics. They consider cricket a religion which makes them devotees. And it is the duty of every devotee to make a pilgrimage. And cricket abounds in religious spots. There are places around the world where history has been made, legends have entered folklore and records have been shattered. From stadiums to museums to training maidans, the cricket world has plenty of pilgrimage spots.
So here are 15 places around the world you should visit if you consider yourself as a true lover of cricket:
1. The Lord's Cricket Ground and MCC Museum, London
Named after its founder Thomas Lord, this stadium is the undisputed Mecca of Cricket. Established in 1814, the stadium also plays host to the world's oldest sports museum. The MCC Museum has a collection of memorabilia that includes the famous Ashes Urn and also items related to iconic players like Sir Donald Bradman and WG Grace.
2. The Melbourne Cricket Ground, Australia
The largest cricket stadium in the world with a seating capacity of over 1,00,000. The MCG was established in 1854 and was the first stadium to have a colour scorecard with instant replay displayed on the ground. The stadium is used for other events as well, but it is a legendary venue when it comes to cricket.
3. The Dukes Cricket Factory, London
Established in 1760 in Tonbridge area of Kent, the factory was bought by Indian entrepreneur and cricket fan Dilip Jajodia in 1987. It produces some of the finest cricket balls in the world, which have been used in Ashes for years. The factory sells over 1,00,000 balls a year and also offers other quality cricket equipment. One can witness the art of creating the perfect cricket ball here.
4. The Eden Gardens, Kolkata
Eden Gardens has hosted some of the most memorable matches of the sub-continent. With a capacity of 90,000, the ground was built in 1864 in Kolkata. It is the largest cricket stadium in India and the second largest in the world. Every cricket lover should attend a match here just to witness the amazing atmosphere.
5. The Bradman Museum & International Cricket Hall of Fame, New South Wales
Earlier, it was just the Bradman Museum, paying respect to arguably one of the best batsmen to ever grace the game. Apart from Sir Donald Bradman's glorious legacy, the museum now also showcases the growth of cricket over the years. The museum has interactive touch screen displays and state of the art facility. It's definitely worth a visit.
6. The West Indies Cricket Heritage Centre, Grenada
West Indies is the first country to become World Champions, winning the first 2 World Cups and are known for producing world class players like Clive Lloyd, Vivian Richards and Brian Lara. This is the only museum dedicated to their entire history of cricket. Located in Beaulieu, Grenada, the museum holds some of the best memorabilia of Windies' history and is part of the Spice Basket Museum. The entire cultural centre is an amazing place to visit.
7. The WACA Ground, Perth
Located in Perth, the Western Australian Cricket Association Stadium was established circa 1890. The pitch here is the quickest in the world, with the outfield being equally fast. It has not only witnessed fast scoring but great bowling performances as well. Also next to the ground is the WACA Museum that houses items of not just cricket history but also other sports that have been played here.
8. The Newland's Cricket Ground, South Africa
The ground's official name is Sahara Park Newland's Cricket Ground due to sponsorship arrangements. Newland's, located in Cape Town, South Africa, is one of the most beautiful cricketing grounds in the world with a picturesque view overlooked by Table Mountain and Devil's Peak. What a backdrop when you're watching a match.
9. The Blades Of Glory Museum, Pune
This a relatively new museum set up in Pune, Maharashtra, and features some great items like bats signed by all the World Cup-winning teams till date and also by the entire Indian and West Indian line up that was part of Sachin Tendulkar's last match. It has original bats and kits of world renowned players as well the ones they used while breaking records.
10. Cricket Ball Factories, Meerut
Meerut in Uttar Pradesh is known for manufacturing cricket equipment. All major brands in India have units there. You need proper permission to visit most of these factories but if you're able to obtain one, witnessing how the leather balls are made is an interesting experience. One should definitely take time out and visit one of these.
11. The HPCA Stadium, Dharamshala
The venue is situated at a height of 4780 feet with an amazing view of the snow-capped Dhauladhar range in the background. The ground itself has a unique construction of colourful stands that are visible from nearby hills as well if you are at a higher altitude. The seating capacity is only 23,000 but the picturesque beauty and the surreal ambiance is something even the WACA or Lord's can't boast of.
12. Shivaji Park, Mumbai
The likes of Sachin Tendulkar, Sunil Gavaskar, Sanjay Manjrekar, Vinod Kambli and many more practiced at this venue day in and day out as they honed their skills en route to becoming some of the biggest names in cricket. The aura left by these cricketing greats is what prompts young children with dreamy eyes to flock to the maidan and practice every morning and evening. Youngsters who aspire to break into the Indian team also come here and play in the hope of good luck.
13. The New Zealand Cricket Museum, Wellington
The Basin Reserve is home to the New Zealand's historic Test venue and the New Zealand Cricket Museum. It features cricketing artifacts from the 19th century, videos of interviews with famous players and exclusive and unique memorabilia such as the famous large cricket boots of Sir Richard Hadlee. It is a must visit for cricket lovers who travel to New Zealand.
14. The Cricket Ganesha Temple, Chennai
The temple is nearly 13 years old and is located in Anna Nagar, Chennai. There are two separate idols of Ganesha in batting and bowling postures and also a deity with 11 heads depicting the 11 men on the field. The temple has been built for devotees to come and pray for their team to do well. With the 2015 World Cup coming up, this temple will see a lot of visitors.
15. The Mitcham Cricket Green, London
Believed to be in use since 1685, it is probably the oldest cricket ground. During the 19th century, the Australian cricket team would reside in the Cricketers' Pub and practice on the green during their tour. The current pavilion is quite unique as it is the only cricket pavilion in the world to be separated from the ground by a road.