NOTE: This article is currently a work in progress. This note will be removed once the post is finalized.

Let’s start with something very close to our hearts - Cricket.

Do smaller Indian towns produce more cricketers than larger Indian cities? Where will the next batch of Indian Cricketers come from?

Will they come from the largest cities - Delhi/NCR, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Hyderabad and the like? Or will they come from the smaller cities like Jaipur, Nagpur, Bhubaneswar? Or further smaller cities, or from even the remote parts of the country?

Would high levels of pollution and lack of spaces in the large Indian cities affect the physical fitness of building talent in those cities.

I can think of three Indian Cricket stalwarts who came from large cities - Sachin (Mumbai), Ganguly (Kolkata) and Kohli (Delhi). Would such talent be stymied by the smog of Delhi, the Claustrophobia of Mumbai, or the immovable traffic of Bangalore. It’s an important question to ask - not solely for buddy cricket talent, but even more for the health and wellness of each and every child in Indian cities.

The Cricket question is the first question I pose for my original hypothesis ( see preamble / rant [* (link pending)]).

How do we predict the future composition of the Indian Cricket team? We look into the past of course.

I made a list of the one-day-international (ODI) players for India (*, *) from the last two World Cups and the last two Champion Trophies (*,*). This resulted in a list of * players. These players were born in between the years * and *. We can safely say that the only truly large Indian cities when these kids were growing up, were Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata and many other currently large cities will not have made the cut (for example, Bangalore, would not have been considered a large city before it enabled hyper growth of 2010-15).

With these assumptions let us then try to find how many ODI players came from the largest Indian cities and how many came from medium or smaller locations. For this we look at the players birthplaces and also categorize the birthplaces by population (by Census, *):

  • Large Indian cities : > 5 million
  • Medium sized Indian cities : 1-5 million
  • Small Indian cities, towns,….. : <1 million

For example, Kohli’s birthplace Delhi with a population of 12 million is categorized as a large city, while Ravindra Jadeja’s birthplace Saurashtra (Pop. * Million) is categorized as a “small” city or town.

How many cricketers came from each category?

Let us start with a simple bar graph of the number of players per category.

Cricketers Origin by city Category

It turns out that large cities sent only 5 of the 30 (~17%) players in the last 2 world cups and 2 champions trophies. Medium sized and small sized cities /towns contributed almost equally, with * (%) & * (%) players respectively.

Sum of population of cricketer birthplaces

Here, we just sum the population of birthplaces in each category of the list, and then chart the sum by category below:

Sum of Population of cricketers birthplaces by category

(N is the number of unique cricketers birthplaces in each category)

The Population bar chart is designed just to get a feel of the relative population contributions of the unique locations in the list.

For the two large cities in our list of cricketer birthplaces (Delhi & Chennai) the sum population is ~* million. ( * Players made the cut from this population of * million)

For the * medium sized cities in our list, the sum population is * million (* players made the cut from this starting population). Finally, small sized cities or towns contributed to a sum population of * million and produced * Cricketers. Calculating % probably by dividing the number of cricketers per category by the sum of birthplace populations would be unfair (there would be different kinds of statistical bias), so I will skip that.

A map of Indian cricketers and their birthplaces

For the find graphic(s), we collected the latitude, longitude data for each birthplace (Google Maps) and plotted each cricketer in our list at the location of their birthplace. Hovering over each dot gives more details. The Cricketer dots are colored by their category. To make the map more interesting, we seized the dot for each cricketer by their number of ODI’s played. This way, cricket greats like Yuvraj Singh ( * ODI caps, Birthplace: Chandigarh) and MS Dhoni (* ODI caps, Birthplace: Ranchi) show up prominently.

The map also shows that there is a huge cluster in and around Delhi - almost as if the neck of India has squeezed out a huge number of cricketers. Virat Kohli (* ODI caps, Birthplace: Delhi) crowds out the rest of the players. For the sake of the Delhi cluster, we create a ___ in the sub-area, this time skipping the ____ by ODI caps played, and also staggering the player dots by a bit.

We can then clearly distinguish the players in that cluster, * of whom were from Delhi, and * were from nearby medium or large sized cities (including the stalwart Suresh Raina, * ODI caps, Birthplace : Muradnagar, UP).

Similarly, we show a zoomed in map around Chennai and Bangalore.

Conclusions (if any?)

Let us not jump to any conclusions from this data. The sample size is so small (* players) that there is bound to be standard bias.

Let us take this exercise for some simple aims instead:

  • A code set of graphs and plots for a topic most Indians care about - cricket, and that hopefully will prompt some thoughts about something most Indians should (but currently do not) care about - environmental sustainability and improved city life.

Lets just leave it at this… shall we?

Follow up

The data and code is available at *. People are encouraged to add to the data and analysis via collaborations, the open source community and similar reports.

Project Contributors

The project was conceived and designed by Kriti Sen Sharma, Ph.D. Code implementation was done in collaboration with Diana Ow. Data collection work was done by Mrs. Hameeda Begum. This report was written by Kriti Sen Sharma.


As the project designer, I must declare that while I enjoy watching cricket, I am not an ardent follower. I used to follow cricket passionately as a child but got demotivated after the match fixing scandals of the Azharuddin era. I never really rejoined the worship of cricket ever since.

I note this here to say that this analysis is not meant to hurt ardent cricket followers, or those who are involved in the coaching of the next generation of Indian cricketers. This analysis is done dispassionately, but the topic is so selected such that a deep passion of most of the country (cricket) may be used to involve some thoughts on a deep passion of mine (the environment).

Also, if you find any issues with the data and/or the analysis, please raise an issue here [*], or here [*].

  • Kriti Sen Sharma, Ph.D.