By Anupam Soni :
THE much cherished dream of differently-abled cricketers playing under the banner of Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) will be great for players, feel city’s international players and noted sports administrators. Indian disabled teams have been participating in various international cricket tournaments and even won the World Cup last year but the teams were never under BCCI fold. With the initiative of none other than BCCI Secretary Jay Shah, who in recent meeting with all the stake holders of disability cricket suggested that BCCI was more than eager to help all forms of cricket in the country including cricket for differently-abled.
The Lodha Committee formed by Supreme Court had also recommended in its report that cricket for differently-abled should be given a priority and efforts should be made to form a committee to run differently-abled cricket. With support from different groups running differently-abled cricket in India, the Differently-Abled Cricket Council of India (DCCI) has been formed under the Karnataka Societies Registration Act. Recognised and established cricket associations including wheel chair, physically challenged, blind and deaf cricket came together and united under a common umbrella of DCCI. President of Maharashtra Cricket Association for Disabled and Shiv Chhatrapati Awardee Uttam Mishra, who is among one of the founders of the association, termed it as a welcome move but had his apprehensions regarding future of the present office-bearers.
“Disabled cricketers playing under BCCI will be a big boost to the sport. We have been running pillar to post to keep the sport alive. The office-bearers and players will no longer beg for sponsorship. But, at the same time, I fear that BCCI will sideline us. I take this opportunity to request them that they must also look at accommodating those who have done a lot for the game till now,” said Mishra while talking to ‘The Hitavada’. City’s most decorated para athlete, Arjuna and Dronacharya Awardee Vijay Munishwar also echoed the same sentiments. “See what happened to women’s cricket after BCCI took it under its wings. The players will be immensely benefited. But it will be not a very smooth sailing. The disabled teams need to have some sort of balance as regards the percentage of disability. A panel of doctors selected by BCCI must certify the players. Also, we know that office bearers of women’s cricket at State and district levels were never accepted by the respective State associations or the BCCI.
At least those people who have given their all for disabled cricket like Uttam Mishra must be given some suitable post by the VCA or BCCI when things finally get shape,” Munishwar spoke up his mind. City’s international players Gurudas Raut, who has led India and Maharashtra on numerous occasion and was part of the team that won the World Cup, and Sarnag Chafle, who was a stand-by for WC expressed their happiness. “Players will have a great future under BCCI. With good facilities there will be professional approach by the players. The players will focus just on cricket. Players will get job and will be able to run their houses. We will not have to run after sponsorers for tournaments. BCCI must also help those who have done a lot for the sport until now,” said Raut, who works with Maintenance Command, Indian Air Force. Chafle, an employee with the MSEB, remarked, “It is a good news for all of us. The players will start thinking more positively. Though Raut and myself are on jobs, many jobless players might get job. There might be live telecast of our matches too. In all, it is a good achievement. BCCI should also include those who have worked all their life for the disabled sport in some panel according to their qualities.”