If you see cricket history, India is considered a strong cricket team among top 12 teams.

And one of the big reasons is probably history and cricket 'culture'. So this influence a lot that cricket is more popular than any other sport here.

But I'm also thinking since India has largest population (and add the factor of history), so more chances of producing quality cricketers.

One of my personal assumption to support my above thinking are two examples:

  1. Look at the example of China. Irrespective of the fact that they are not known for cricket, they do so much good in Olympics. So again I feel since both countries have bigger population than anyone else, it does help in sports.

  2. Then look at Sri Lanka cricket. They were a strong team a decade ago. But since they don't have bigger population, I feel it will take them longer time (as compared to others) to get fully stable again like their past.

But there are contradictions to my statements like Australia and New Zealand. So I'm not sure about what I think.

So is there any truth in what I'm thinking?

  • 1
    By far and away the biggest factor in being a top cricket team is "having been part of the British Empire".
    – Philip Kendall
    Oct 16, 2021 at 14:34
  • The population of Sri Lanka is greater than the populations of both Australia and New Zealand, so that isn't a reason.
    – Chenmunka
    Oct 16, 2021 at 17:48
  • Sri Lanka is the 8th ranked Test playing country in the world. Sri Lanka is the 58th largest country by population. Sri Lanka (Ceylon) was a part of the British Empire. Looks pretty good to me - or more generally, I'm sure on any rational statistical test, "was member of the British Empire" is more highly correlated with being a top cricket team than population.
    – Philip Kendall
    Oct 16, 2021 at 18:48
  • There are only twelve teams with Test status in the world. Being "top 12" is equivalent to merely participating at all, at least in that form.
    – Nij
    Oct 16, 2021 at 21:02
  • @Nij Sure. But the reason that Sri Lanka competes in Test matches is because they are unquestionably better at cricket than any of the non-Test nations bar maybe one or two. If you really want to, look at the T20I rankings - Sri Lanka are 10th/86 (or top 12%) but 58th/235 (top 25%) in terms of population.
    – Philip Kendall
    Oct 16, 2021 at 21:12

1 Answer 1


Not really.

As you yourself have noted, the correlation between population and sporting success is fairly weak. China have never been very good at cricket, whereas Australia and New Zealand have consistently been in the top five teams in the world, and Sri Lanka have consistently been in the top ten.

Football is another good example. Of the twenty most populous nations on Earth, only two (Brazil and Germany) have ever won the FIFA World Cup. Seven (including India) have never even qualified, and three (China, Indonesia, and DR Congo) have only qualified once. Meanwhile, at the 2018 World Cup, Croatia - the 130th most populous nation - finished runners-up, and Belgium - the 79th most populous - finished 3rd and are currently top of the FIFA World Rankings.

It's certainly true that having a larger population gives you a larger pool of talent and, therefore, a higher chance of producing world-class players. But in order to actually convert that talent pool into a world-class team, you need two things:

  1. Interest. If people in the country aren't interested in a sport, they're not going to play it, no matter how good they might be at it.
  2. Investment. Without proper facilities, infrastructure, and coaching staff, a sportsperson is never going to reach their full potential, and unless they are paid a lucrative wage, they won't be able to afford to turn professional.

This is often a self-perpetuating cycle: success in a sport brings more interest and more investment, which in turn brings more success. This is how the likes of Australia and New Zealand have been able to remain cricketing powerhouses for decades despite having a fraction of India's population.

India's large population does give it a theoretical advantage, but the real reason it's remained so successful for so long is because it has the interest and investment to be able to make the most of its population.

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