Politics, player exodus: Bihar awaits Lodha reforms to re-enter Ranji fold
The players have no platform to showcase their talent and get noticed by the national selectors. Bihar has not played in the Ranji Trophy since 2003-04 when BCCI derecognised the state body.cricket Updated: Aug 26, 2016 15:53 IST
Young cricketers emerging out of Bihar have more to worry about than perfecting one’s stance and technique or hitting upon the perfect line and length. They have to keep a tab on petitions, review petitions, PILs, complaints, official red tape and court dates that have more say in their future than their playing skills.
The players have no platform to showcase their talent and get noticed by the national selectors. Bihar has not played in the Ranji Trophy since 2003-04 when BCCI derecognised the state body. From Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who played in Bihar’s last first class season in 2003-04, to India Under-19 captain Ishan Kishan (who plays for Jharkhand), many talented players have been forced to move out of the state to pursue their career in cricket.
The state is yet to have a fully recognised body under the BCCI and thus, can’t take part in Ranji Trophy or other domestic tournaments. In 2000, when Uttarakhand, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand were carved out from Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar respectively, two separate bodies — Jharkhand State Cricket Association (JSCA) and Bihar Cricket Association (BCA) — were formed.
However, as a setback to the BCA and cricket lovers in Bihar, the then BCCI president Jagmohan Dalmiya ratified JSCA but refused to recognise BCA.
The tussle isn’t just between the state and the BCCI. Two more associations — Cricket Association of Bihar (CAB), formed by Shekhar Sinha, and Association of Bihar Cricket (ABC) led by former cricketer Kirti Azad — were formed to get the official nod. The tripartite fight increased the bitterness between the BCCI and the state, leaving the players in the lurch.
Tejashwi Yadav, the deputy chief minister of Bihar and a former cricketer, also represented Jharkhand in his playing days. The state hasn’t hosted any international match for the last 20 years (the last match was during the 1996 World Cup when Kenya played Zimbabwe at the Moin-ul-Haq stadium in Patna. The stadium was recently used to telecast four IPL matches on giant screens, the closest it got to live cricket action).
“The BCCI approved Jharkhand as a full-time member but ignored us. The state was carved out of Bihar with 13 districts. We had 30! I will continue to fight for Bihar,” an agitated Aditya Verma, secretary of CAB, said. “I don’t care if BCA is given the official nod ahead of the CAB. It’s not about the future of my association but the future of several kids in Bihar. Who knows, there might have been a Sachin who didn’t take up cricket as there was no adequate platform.
“I just want a clean body that will look after the future of our young players,” added Verma. “Who gives BCCI the right to allow or disallow a player from playing cricket? Had Sarita Devi and Mary Kom been a part of the BCCI, they wouldn’t even represent India let alone win medals.”
However, things are taking a turn for the better for Bihar, especially once the Supreme Court-appointed Lodha Committee’s recommendations are implemented by the BCCI. “I’ve urged the Lodha Committee to ensure that the recommendations of the panel are implemented at the earliest. Cricket is suffering in Bihar for the past 15 years and the process is further getting delayed,” said Verma.
Former Bihar cricketer, Satyendra Singh, is happy things are looking better. “When I started playing in 1986, things weren’t this complicated. We used to simply play the game and enjoy it. It’s sad that the state and so many young kids lost out on the opportunity to represent the state and perhaps play for India someday,” he said.
However, to rebuild a team would take a lot of effort and time. “If the CAB is allowed to form the body and look after cricket in the state, we will approach three professional players, who are playing for other states, to represent Bihar. It’s a tedious process to build a team. Players don’t crop up all of a sudden,” Verma added.
Hunting talent would be a challenge for any association as established players would have become comfortable playing for other teams by now. For instance, Ishan, who led the national team at the Under-19 World Cup in Bangladesh earlier this year, would prefer to stick to Jharkhand than switch sides.
“It’s great to know that Bihar might finally feature in the Ranji Trophy but I want to lift the trophy with Jharkhand first and then think of everything else,” said Ishan, who has an average of 40.88 from 10 first class matches. “Whatever I am today, it is because of the platform provided by the Jharkhand Ranji team. If I ever play for Bihar, I’ll try my best to improve the quality of cricket played there.”