Balraj Syal’s association with Celebrity Cricket League (CCL) goes a long way back. He joined the league when Punjab team (Punjab De Sher) became a part of it in 2016-17, and is playing for them this year too. The actor, host and comedian, is very fond of the tournament and enjoys taking part in it. He also loves cricket. After all, it’s a sport that most Indians enjoy watching. CCL 2023 is on till March 19.
“Cricket is an emotion to every Indian to be honest. For some, it’s a passion, for some it’s their first love, and some also get tired of too much of the game (jokes). Cricket is very special to me. When you are born in India the one thing that you have in your DNA is the love and passion for cricket. Nine out of ten people have always intended to become a cricketer since childhood. I have met the majority of my friends in Mumbai through cricket. When I was struggling as an actor even at that time I had good relations with people because of cricket. I feel this bunch of friends of mine will stay with me forever,” he says.
Celebrity Cricket League is the second biggest cricket league in India after IPL (Indian Premier League). Eight industries Telugu, Chennai, Karnataka, Kerala, Bengal, Bhojpur, Bollywood and Punjabi are part of it.
“It’s a pan-India league and people all over the world watch these matches. They can see their favourite stars playing and enjoying it, which makes it all the more special. It’s a big platform for celebrities to come under one roof and make new bonds while playing together. I have never been to Kerala but I have some friends from the industry now and I am glad to have met them. This is likewise happening in all the industries with everyone,” he adds.
CCL is back after three years, post Covid. Hence, the excitement is all the more. “The love you get off the field is very special. Even social media is changing the dynamics of CCL and is helping us reach out to wider audiences and fans. We all are connected to Bollywood but here we get connected to Pollywood, Tollywood and so on. All age groups play together and with so much dedication,” he says.
Sonu Sood is the captain of Punjab De Sher. Talking about their team, Balraj shares, “Our team is very competitive and always high on energy. The only complicated thing that we face every year is that some of our players stay far away so we can’t meet often, which sometimes affects our preparations. This year we are playing very well. As a caption, Sonu paaji is very nice and supportive.”
So who is Balraj’s favourite cricketer? “I have many favourite Indian cricketers but in today’s time, it’s Virat Kohli and R Ashwin. And, my all time favourite is Yuvraj Singh. All the tournaments Yuvraj paaji has played, he has given his best. I enjoyed watching him in action on the field every single time,” he replies.