By P R Mansingh
21 to 54 is no consolation because the end result has been the same. Last year, the Hyderabad Ranji team got its name into the annals of history by getting out for the lowest ever score : 21. Yesterday, it crumbled to an innings defeat against Maharashtra, bundled out for 54 in the second innings.
As a lover of Hyderabad cricket, who has seen the days of glory, it indeed is very painful to see the team in such dire straits. I wonder how chief minister Kiran Kumar Reddy, who has played for Hyderabad, has been vice president of HCA for some five years and is now the chief patron, is keeping quiet about this sorry state of affairs.
I see the happenings on the field the direct outcome of what is happening inside the HCA. The selection is improper, the domestic league is conducted most shabbily and there are allegations of corruption and maladministration against the powers-that-be. All this is enough to ensure that the team Hyderabad fields, comes a cropper.
Out of 220 teams in the Hyderabad League, as many as 150 are in `A’ division. The quality of the teams in some of the league matches is so poor that many of the three-day games get over in one and a half days. The teams are promoted to `A’ division, mostly to garner the votes of the club secretaries at election time.
This year saw too much flip-flop over selection of the team. Which is just not the done thing. Given that you have all the time from June till October to observe the best talent and choose the best team, it is a crime when it is not done. Organising the matches in June-July-August also means most of the matches are washed out or the grounds are not conducive for good cricket.
I think a few things need to be done on priority basis.
1. First HCA should put cricket above everything else. It is sad that cricketers of Hyderabad have ruined Hyderabad cricket. Even though the likes of Arshad Ayub, Shivlal Yadav and Venkatapathy Raju know what it takes to earn an India cap, they have done little to promote the younger cricketers.
2. The coach should be available all twelve months of the year, not just for a few months. He has to spot talent and groom them to play for India, which should really be the ultimate aim.
3. The domestic league cricket has to be properly organised to foster healthy competition among clubs and the selection process has to be done in time and without showing any partiality.
4. HCA has to ensure proper utilisation of the grants from BCCI and pass it on to the clubs. For instance, my club gets one lakh rupees every year from HCA but it is of no use unless the association helps me arrange a ground for my team to practise on. Unless the infrastructure is there, how will cricket flourish in the city.
I cannot help remembering the 80s when it was considered a crime to lose to teams like Goa, Andhra, Kerala. Our coach, Eddie Aibara used to tell the boys that he wanted the match against these teams to end in two days and it was with that attitude that the team was made to play. That’s how we won the Ranji Trophy title in 1987.