In the past, Hyderabad has been home to legendary cricketers, known for their talent and flamboyance in equal measure. From M.L. Jaisimha and Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi to Mohammad Azharuddin and V.V.S. Laxman, the city has produced some of the country’s top performers.
However, a glimpse into the recent state of affairs of the Hyderabad Cricket Association (HCA) gives a depressing picture. Expressing his angst over the poor state of cricket in the city, Hyderabad-born cricket commentator and analyst Harsha Bhogle tweeted, “Extremely pained by what I am reading about Hyderabad cricket. I have such happy memories of playing cricket there. It had a very good structure and that is why it kept throwing up players for India (sic).” Bhogle’s tweet once again turns the spotlight on the current affairs of trouble-hit Hyderabad cricket, and how ultimately, cricket is the biggest casualty.
John Manoj, former Secretary, Hyderabad Cricket Association questions the current players format that the board is following. “Earlier, we used to conduct several league matches, and players who did well were given the chance to play at zonal and state levels and eventually for the national team. But the existing board is not even conducting an appropriate number of league matches, and has also changed the format and structure of playing hierarchy, so how will Hyderabad cricket produce players for Team India?” he asks.
Vidyut Jaisimha, former first class cricketer from Hyderabad, fears that Hyderabad is losing out on the opportunity to produce cricketers who can play for Team India. He further adds that the current mess in the Cricket Association is prompting players to leave and play for another state.
“Players like Vihari, Ravi Teja and Ohja are exciting talents, but they left the Hyderabad team (because of the differences amongst the administrators) to play for the Andhra Cricket Association,” states Jaisimha, adding, “The players who played for the state team haven’t been paid for the last two years, and this has forced a few players to even quit the game. What can the players do? Worse still, players from Assam and Goa lead the Hyderabad team!”
Ambati Rayudu, a very promising player, suffered the most because of HCA politics. The IPL league too today has no Hyderabad player! Not just men, even the women’s cricket team is undergoing a similar crisis. The biggest concern is that no woman cricketer has played for Team India from Hyderabad.
Purnima Rau, former India women’s cricket team coach and Hyderabad cricketer, shares that Hyderabad is not contributing to Team India because of lack of enough league matches being played.
“The last time a Hyderabadi woman cricketer played for India — Gouher Sultana — was in 2014. Before that it was Mythali Raj. We have not had a cricketer from Hyderabad since the last four years and it is really alarming. The current board is not conducting enough league matches as a result of which players are not participating and this is hampering their chances to play for the national team,” laments Purnima.
Former Indian cricketer Arshad Ayub says that it’s time to put cricket first. He points out that the Supreme Court has given the directions and if BCCI follows them, things might improve. “I am hoping that the existing issues will be resolved and cricket will be the ultimate winner,” opines Arshad.
Renowned sports writer and author Ayaz Memon believes that the role of the respective state cricket associations is vital in producing talent for Team India. “They (state cricket associations) should spot players early on and groom them; that gives enough time and experience for the players to make it to the national team and do well,” says Ayaz.