Whatever I am today I owe to Shivaji Park.
As a school student, all I used to do in my spare time was go to Shivaji Park and play cricket with just one aim — bat on the centre wicket.
Ramakant Achrekar, the celebrated coach, used to have his nets at the park. Once his practice ended, we would play ‘friendly’ matches with his students. Once, Achrekar Sir saw me playing and asked me to bat on the main wicket. From then on, cricket has been the most important part of my life. And it wouldn’t have happened without Shivaji Park.
Once a cricketer gets used to the park, he stays in touch with the game in some form or the other. I consider myself fortunate to have not only represented Shivaji Park Gymkhana (SPG) all my life, but also to be associated as a coach with it.
Over the years, I have seen from close quarters the impact of political rallies on the ground. The rally is held only for a day, but it takes weeks for the ground to be restored to its original condition. And by that time, it’s time for the next rally.
I am elated with the Bombay High Court interim order, especially because it comes during SPG’s centenary year.
It’s been a long fight. Several people, including sportspersons, senior citizens’ associations, sports clubs, walkers’ associations and local residents, have been fighting for the cause for years.
While travelling across the world as an India player and then as coach with the India A team, I realised that we do not lack quality players or coaches, but we are far behind countries like Australia in terms of infrastructure.
Let’s hope the decision acts as precursor to SPG’s plans to construct an ultra-modern academy at the park.
Amre is a former India cricketer and the current Mumbai coach.