Dwindling eyeballs, diminishing footfalls and India’s freefall from the top — all this suggest that the great Indian cricket dream is on the wane.
That’s just one side of the picture, though. Here’s the other one: The Meerut Cricket Association, on Saturday, registered a mind-boggling 3580 names for the BCCI bowling trials, and when the aspirants kept coming well after the scheduled closure time, the officials had no option but to close the registration window. “They will keep coming. How many can we admit?” grumbled Yudhveer Singh, secretary of the Meerut Cricket Association.
By then, though, there were already more than they could handle. For a while, it was chaos. The hopefuls, with not enough people around to guide them, brought down the small barricades around the nets while pushing their way forward. Order was restored when the police stormed in, war-ready with their helmets on. The sight, with the police brandishing lathis to ring in some order, resembled the site of a demonstration than a cricket trial.
From here and there
The massive crowd came from varied backgrounds and places, but what they had in common was the realisation that cricket could change their lives and that this trial could be the first step to name and fame.
Of course, not everyone who turned up was talented. Many in fact would struggle to make it to a decent school team, leave alone playing for their states or country.
Yet, they came to give it a shot. Not for fun of course. Jostling through thousands, sitting under a hot sun without water while waiting for their turn and risking a police lathi can’t qualify as fun by any stretch of imagination. Most of them had, quite crazily, pegged their hopes on a weird stroke of luck and some were happily ignorant about their abilities. “We don’t get to play regularly but we are much stronger than these city kids. So who knows, we might pull it off,” said some youngsters from Saharanpur.
Then, there were some ‘multi-talented’ ones too. “I have my Indian Idol audition in Delhi, but cricket takes preference. But it looks like I won’t get a chance today. So I will return to Delhi for my audition and come back for the trials tomorrow (Sunday),” said Nikhil Khushu, a photographer.
For the serious ones, it was another day in office. They have been to trials before, and this won’t be their last. “We can’t afford to get discouraged because so many have turned up. It’s the same everywhere. We are at least good at cricket. We will keep giving it our best shot,” said a group from Aligarh in unison.
Selection in fast forward mode
How can 3,580 bowlers be judged fairly in two days? Well, that’s exactly the task a team of Sandeep Patil, Karsan Ghavri and Yoginder Puri are faced with in Meerut. The trio, though, judge players day in and day out as coaches, but this may prove a bit too much for them, unless they rush things a bit.
This could lead to some escaping their eye and thus defeating the purpose of unearthing hidden talent. On Saturday itself, they assessed 2500 contenders and picked just 25 to 30 for the next round. In hindsight, the officials could have finished the registration, having announced it well in advance, a couple of days before the trials. This way they would have known the number of aspirants, and maybe the BCCI could have extended the trials by a day to make it look more fair and reasonable.