Dear Sir: To give you an example, very recently, Punjab U-17 team has been crowned winners of Vijay Trophy. Should this be applauded, when not even a single player from the team was U-17? To give you an example, team captain Kunwar Raina was dropped, for being overage, from the state U-15 team, in the year 2003-2004; and now in 2007; he is the captain of the U-17 team. Philanthropist, M P Pandove cum Sec. BCCI and Gen. Sec. PCA is not only aware of the facts, but is hand-in-glove with the whole racket. But to his credit, he is not the only one.
Each year under the aegis of BCCI, age group tournaments are conducted for U-15, U-17, U-19 and U-22 players. Affiliated states conduct inter district tournaments which are followed by inter state competition. For every young cricketer, who yearns to play for India one day, this is his sole opportunity to show-case his talent. For this one chance, he tolls hard the year around, as no other tournament holds such significance.
But to the utter dismay of honest and young cricketers, each year, they are sidelined by a battery of overage players. The contest is not between eligible players. But in fact, it is a no-holds-barred competition between Gen. Secretaries, of majority of the associations. They work assiduously to manipulate the system whereby they can squeeze in as many overage players as possible. Medical determination for age is a witch-craft they have honed in connivance with the medical fraternity. The biggest tragedy, of all, is that this menace is oxygenated by the very officials placed to check this malpractice.
Every official and team is completely aware of what the other is doing, but none protests. It is a classical example of, “people living in glass houses do not throw stones at each other”. Therefore, the menace continues unabated. Even those, whose conscious does not allow them to resort to such evil practices, are forced by circumstances to follow suit.
Who are the real sufferers? The one’s who have decided, not to adopt such unfair means and practices. Imagine a 14-year-old cannot get himself selected in the U-15 team because it is dominated by 17-year-olds; likewise he is shouldered out of the U-17, and U-19 team. Ultimately, one fine day he hangs his boots in desperation. The winner is the system and the corrupt officials, who take pride in placing the word honorary before their names. Each one proclaims himself to be the true messiah of cricket, who is doing nothing, but serving the cause of cricket that too free of cost.
I challenge, if a single official while holding his hand on the heart, either denies the presence of this evil practice or denies his involvement. He is suitably compensated by pecuniary or other benefits. This cancer has eaten out the heart of the honest cricketer.
All are fully aware of the reasons involved. Every upcoming Indian cricketer is convinced that the shortest and quickest way to walk into the National Team is by means of representing the Indian U-19 team. That is why each year, not a single player donning the U-19 colors is really U-19. If there true ages are verified, the average age of the team will not be less than 22 years. And now compare this with that innocent soul who at 19 years and 1 month is slogging in the Ranji Trophy. I independently, have provided to PCA at least more than a dozen cases, where players are in possession of more than one Date of Birth certificate, but no action has ever been initiated against the officials involved or the players. The same players continue to be selected uninterrupted.
I pray upon the conscious of one and all, to act cohesively, and cure Indian Cricket of this mal practice. BCCI can start by putting into place laws with teeth, which could be brought into force against erring officials and associations. It is not an insurmountable task, provided the will is there. Officials should be sternly warned from facilitating the participation of overage players.
No wonder, during international matches, when ages of Indian Players are mentioned knowledgeable people and our officials laugh the loudest.
Sarabjit Singh Kahlon
‘Kahlon Villa’ Opp. Tel. Exchange
V.P.O. Bhattian – Bet,
Ludhiana – 141008; Punjab