Blades of Glory : 5 Must-See Exhibits at the Cricket Museum in Pune

Writer’s note: The 2023 ICC Men’s World Cup, hosted by India, has reached its ultimate crescendo. With remarkable performances, disappointments, rise and fall of teams, controversial commentaries, etc. — the 13th edition of the Cricket World Cup has been, so far, a thrilling festival of teams, experts and cricket aficionados coming together for the biggest game of the season post–Covid 19. The fever is all set to rise as India awaits its rival in the final game. Amidst the constant scrutiny of score charts, player records, and inexplicable surprises at every stage of the tournament, we thought perhaps this is the perfect time to delve into the galleries at the “Blades of Glory” Cricket Museum, the largest of its kind dedicated to the game, located in Pune, Maharashtra!

The museum, a brainchild of Rohan Pate, a cricketer himself, was inaugurated by Sachin Tendulkar in September 2012. The museum hosts over 75,000 rare and extraordinary cricket memorabilia, including personally autographed items by renowned cricketers. From 100 miniature bats representing one of Tendulkar’s international centuries to signed balls by the 11 members of the 300-wicket club in One Day Internationals (ODIs), the museum “stands as a testament to the rich history, cultural significance, and collective achievements of cricket. It offers visitors an immersive experience that celebrates the sport’s heritage while serving as an inspiration for future generations”.

Here are 5 must-see exhibits at this museum dedicated to cricket!

1. Sachin Tendulkar’s 2011 World Cup-winning jersey!

Sachin tendulkar's signed jersey worn in the 2011 cricket world cup
Sachin Tendulkar’s World Cup winning jersey at Blades of Glory Cricket Museum, Pune. Photo: Desiboy101 via Wikimedia Commons

The museum, houses the awe-inspiring blue Indian jersey Sachin Tendulkar wore during the victorious final match of the 2011 World Cup against Sri Lanka. Placed in the section dedicated to the God of Cricket, the jersey is a distinguished piece of tangible memory from the crowning moment of Tendulkar’s international career. Rohan Pate shares the interesting story of his bet with Sachin, who promised the jersey to Rohan if India won. As Sachin scored a double hundred in the tournament, the stars perfectly aligned and Pate was gifted the iconic jersey. The gallery houses intimate exhibits associated with the Little Master and his sporting career that hold a special place and value for cricket enthusiasts around the world. 

2. Virat Kohli’s majestic bat!

Virat Kohli's signed 2016 bat preserved in a glass case.
Virat Kohli’s bat from 2016. Photo: Blades of Glory Facebook via Facebook

The Virat Kohli section of the museum celebrates one of contemporary cricket’s greatest icons and is home to a very special item. That is the player’s 2016 cricket bat. 2016, a passionate cricket fan will remember, was a significant year in Kohli’s cricketing journey. He amassed a remarkable 973 runs, and also scored the most individual runs in the IPL Tournament. And this bat, which now occupies the central stage in this gallery, was the instrument of his success. The bat exudes his dedication, style and determined action, and bears a testimony to Virat’s unmatched form and record-breaking success that he attained in 2016. The exceptional feats and scores achieved with this bat are etched on its wooden body by Kohli himself.

At the 2023 Cricket World Cup too, Kohli seems to be on a record-breaking spree: with 50 ODI centuries to his name, he has already surpassed Tendulkar’s earlier record of 49 ODI hundreds. In a surprise move this time, he also clenched a WC wicket while bowling against Netherlands!

3. The first pink ball in cricket!

first pink ball ever used, signed by Steve Smith and Brendon Mccullum
Pink Ball used in the first ever day-night test match between Australia Vs New Zealand held at Adelaide Oval, Australia. Photo: Blades of Glory via Facebook

The museum also proudly hosts the first pink ball to be ever used in the history of the sport in the 2015 Test Match between Australia and New Zealand. The Test Match held at Adelaide Oval where Australia had defeated the Kiwis was the first day/night Test Match, organised exactly 36 years after the ICC sanctioned the first day/night cricket match. The ball which marked a departure from the conventional red coloured ball shows a unique (and pink) moment in the game’s evolution. The ball carries the signatures of Steve Smith and Brendon McCullum, the then captains of Australia and New Zealand respectively. It is indeed one of the museum’s rarest gems.

4. World cup-winning jersey of West Indies’ star player Malcolm Marshall

signed jersey of Malcolm Marshall
West Indies bowler Malcolm Marshall’s jersey.

The next special item is the jersey that Malcolm Marshall of West Indies had worn during his World Cup victory. The fabric occupies a place of prestige in the carefully curated World Cup section of the museum. Malcolm was one of West Indies’ greatest fast bowlers. Seeing his jersey housed in the museum, Sachin commented how Marshall was one of the most difficult bowlers that he had ever faced. Malcolm played a significant role during the golden era of West Indian cricket when the team consecutively lifted the world cup in 1975 and 1979. The signed jersey takes the viewers back in time when cricket dynamics were different, so were heroes and stories, and gives a glimpse into the game’s fascinating history and sound legacy.

5. Bowling legend Muttiah Muralitharan’s jersey!

signed jersey of Muttiah Muralitharan
Bowling legend Muttiah Muralitharan’s jersey.

Muttiah Muralitharan’s jersey that he wore when he claimed his 520th wicket is another glorious object that the museum proudly showcases. Muralitharan, undoubtedly the best bowler of the Sri Lankan team ever, is known for taking the highest number of wickets in international tests. The signed jersey stands as an iconic reminder to the 2004–Test Match between Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe where Murali took the golden wicket, transcending West Indian bowler Walsh’s record. Moreover, the artefact delineates Murali’s outstanding passion for the game, his smooth daring spinners that put even the greatest batsmen at unease. The infographics provide a touching history of the maestro’s life and career.

Decolonising Cricket

The museum presents a fascinating entry into the world of cricket. The origins of the sport can be traced back to south–east England of the late 16th century. By the 18th century, it had become an established sport in Britain, spilling over to the colonies and developing globally throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. The fictional account of Lagaan (2001), starring Aamir Khan, best hints at this colonial history and legacy of the game. However, cricket has long been decolonised — from South Africa’s first international match post the apartheid ban in 1991 with India, to the recent rise of Afghanistan and exit of England from the league stage in this year’s tournament — the empire has been playing back and how!

Cricket in today’s world has thus emerged as the second most popular spectator sport after soccer with various different formats ranging from short T–10 to long drawn Test Matches. It functions as a sport that promotes unity, nationalistic fervor, and full all–round entertainment. That the world’s largest cricket museum, dubbed as the “The Castle of Cricket” is located here, in an erstwhile British colony, further highlights how the game has been wrenched free from its white–colonial domination.

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