I spoke with the captain of the Russian national cricket team, Ashwani Chopra, who supports the game with the ball and bat in the 143-million-strong country with the strength of perseverance, faith and personal funds.
– Cricket is one of the most popular sports in the English – speaking world, and very few people in Russia know about it. Not offended?

– No, it doesn’t hurt. Russia is not an English colony, is it? Every country is different. Take lapta: it is played here, and it is more or less similar to cricket.

Cricket is an Olympic sport, even if it is inactive. I think many countries are trying to develop active Olympic sports in the first place. But there is also good news: according to my data, cricket will soon return to the status of an active Olympic sport. By 2024, that’s for sure. The IOC itself wants to revive cricket in this status.

– I think it was planned for the London Olympics.

“Yes, you’re right. If you remember, at the opening of the Games, cricket was present – at the performance itself. Now the international cricket Council, which includes 107 countries, is intensively engaged in its development. This is quite a lot, you will agree. What is not the reason to return cricket to the Olympic masses?

– How does cricket fare in Russia?

– Personally, I am very happy that the Russian people have become more actively involved in the teams. After all, it used to be like this: only foreigners. And now there are a lot of local players in clubs and in the Russian national team. We played in the 2010 European Cup. So what? The entire team is made up of foreigners who play in Russia. Last year, there were eight Russians in the team, and this year there are nine. There are more of them, of course. I’m just talking about those who play well enough to get into the squad.

– Did the international ban on the performance of the national team without a single pupil lead to this?

– Yes. I personally created my own rule four years ago: that every club should have at least one Russian. And how else to develop? Without local players, any sport is doomed to collapse. On the contrary, to succeed, you need to know and love what you do. So I can brag: we have a lot of local players.

– You are actually a missionary in Russia. In many ways, you started the difficult rise of cricket.

– I can’t say I’m the only reason. There were difficult moments when no one supported me and my associates. Last year, for example, there was a split when many people separated from us, especially representatives of India and Pakistan, and created their own League. They didn’t want to waste their time on Russian players. They just wanted to play for fun, and I said: “I need entertainment plus promotion.”

There was nothing else to do but start over from scratch with the help of those who stayed with me. During the year, eight clubs were created. In Moskvich, for example, some Russians play, and it’s great.