Another season gone. The monsoons have ensured that local cricket gets a break before the grind begins all over again for beleaguered players and officials. Delhi's local cricket has managed to develop a mechanical efficiency in its operation but the game itself seems to be standing somewhere behind in the queue.
Delhi has always had a strong one-day cricket culture. All the cricket played here is either of the 40 overs or less variety. There is a huge pool of talent here but something is draining it.
As a DDCA Sports Committee member says, “Destiny rather than DDCA plays a major role in a player’s quest to graduate to the next level.
When compared with the structures in Mumbai, Karnataka or Bengal, Delhi is quite disorganised. Things simply happen here. If a Virender Sehwag or a Ashish Nehra is produced, it is due to their dedication and patience.
“Even though the cricket played here is of high quality, the need of the hour is to concentrate on the junior level. But before we do that, the entire cricketing structure needs to be revamped.”
As one cricket commentator once said, “there is light at the end of the tunnel but it's of an approaching train.” The top players from Delhi hop on to the first plane that lands them in the lucrative English league -- other than those whose offices don't allow them leave. They see no point in playing the league and frankly, as things stand, there isn't a point.
So what is plaguing Delhi cricket? Even though Delhi recently won the national U-17 title, the junior cricket is in a mess.
Despite having a strong club culture in place, like every big cricket state, Delhi fails to produce players for the big league due to reasons better known to their “top officials”.
The problem probably lies in the planning and execution of the league structure. Instead of conducting a mammoth 800-odd inconsequential league matches, there is an urgent need to have separate sub-junior and junior league tournaments, consisting of two or three-day games.
DDCA's current showcase, a two-day Premier Division tournament, is nothing but mere eyewash to complete the formalities. 12 days of this type of cricket a year is hardly a cause to celebrate!
How about the local tournaments? Om Nath Sood, Goswami Ganesh Dutt, Lala Raghubir are some of the prestigious events and attract the big clubs, companies and international players.
Pramod Sood, organiser of the Om Nath Sood tournament, says, “With big players turning up, the matches are competitive and players put in that extra bit to impress.
But the players are equally concerned about their jobs, understandably, and that passion and dedication for the game seems to be sagging.” But whether these tournaments do anything to nurture quality youngsters is another matter.
Quality coaching at the junior level in non-existent and the lack of three/four day games might see Delhi not producing a good Test player or even a decent Ranji squad in the foreseeable future.
At the same time, former international players, DDCA officials and umpires have set up their private cricket academies and are milking the naïve in the name of the game for all that its worth. A renewed vigour needs to be imparted. The nursery of cricket needs to be protected before autumn sets in forever.