IT WAS the same Uttar Pradesh Ranji Trophy champions who were denied in March the chance to play the final match of the one-day tournament against Railways, at the KD Singh ‘Babu’ Stadium here.
After about eight months on Tuesday, when the team received invitation to a felicitation ceremony by the State Government at the same venue, they were as surprised as scared.
This anxiety, however, was soon replaced by resentment among the team members when they found the name of their coach Rajinder Singh Hans missing from the list of cash awardees. “We did create a history in 72 years of domestic cricket by winning the coveted trophy and along with team members the coach should have also been felicitated by the government,” said team’s senior most member Ashish Winston Zaidi after the ceremony.
The experienced speedster even offered his prize money cheque to Hans after the ceremony, but the coach refused to accept it but appreciated the gesture of Zaidi by patting his back in the presence of all.
Some other members of the team also expressed resentment about Hans’ contribution to helping the team reach the top being overlooked. But there were a few who even suggested the UP Cricket Association bosses give a big award to Hans.
Wearing a blue shirt and black trousers, the veteran Sikh was neither asked to share the seat with the team members in the conference hall of the KD Singh ‘Babu’ Stadium nor his name was taken by anyone during the cheque presentation ceremony, which lasted for just 20 minutes of the meet. As soon the chief guest of the ceremony Sports and Youth Welfare Minister RK Chaudhury stepped in the conference hall, Rajinder Singh Hans walked out and joined some of his friends to chat for time pass. Thanks to the former Indian hockey captain and Regional Sports Officer Ram Prakash Singh, who took Hans to get introduced with the minister and other officials of the government, including Principal Secretary, Sports, Sri Kishan. “He (Ram Prakash) is a sportsman and he knows the importance of a coach or a sportsman,” said Hans later. Barring the young cricket trainees, and the inmates of the hockey and volleyball hostels along with their coaches attended the felicitation ceremony.
The non-cricketers also appeared a bit reluctant for the ceremony, as they felt humiliated over the government’s approach towards cricketers. But they appreciate Rudra Pratap Singh and Ashish Winston Zaidi most during the introduction ceremony.
“Why such a special treatment to the cricketers only? Many of our sports persons won medals at the national and international levels, but they never get this kind of treatment from the government,” said a spiker Vivek Singh. Besides giving Rs 1 lakh each to all the team members, Rs 5 lakh each was given to Mohd Kaif, Suresh Raina, Rudra Pratap Singh and Piyush Chawla for playing for the Team India. Both Kaif and Raina couldn’t make it to the ceremony, as they are busy in South Africa with Team India.
As expected Sri Kishan in his welcome address appreciated the efforts of minister RK Chaudhury for getting the prize money sanctioned from the government.
While the minister admired the backing of Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav for making an announcement for this ceremony in last session of Vidhan Sabha.
The minister also admired himself, claiming that it was his effort, which created a fruitful atmosphere for the sportspersons in the State. His comment came as a great shock for everyone present at the ceremony as since the Sports Act-2005 came into existence last year, the sports activities in the State are almost dead. He also admired cricketers Rudra Pratap Singh and Piyush Chawla as ‘Prides of Uttar Pradesh’.
“I don’t know my fate after the coming assembly elections in the next two months, but I feel that a positive sports atmosphere in the State should continue,” said the minister, who also retreated his stand for the overall development of sports and the sportspersons in the State.