Pankaj Advani extended the scope of the conversation triggered by the upheaval in India’s cricket board by calling for a change in how the country perceives sport. To that, Aditya Mehta, who will defend his snooker gold in this year’s World Games, added that India’s understanding of the difference between an amateur and professional is perhaps skin deep. “We think pros make millions of dollars, which is not true,” said the snooker star who has been a professional since 2008.
Advani was making the point when asked whether he thought what happened to the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) should be extended to other sport. Bristling ever so slightly, the 16-time world champion, here for the 3rd Kolkata Open National Invitation Snooker Championship, asked why such questions were never put to cricketers.
“The only thing I can say is that the day our sports policy revolves around athletes and athletes alone is when we can expect professionalism in sport in India. Until then don’t expect…champions coming out of the system as part of a structured policy.”
Mehta said if India started today, it would take 10-15 years before it could get to a respectable position in professional snooker.
That is when Advani added to his recently-aired thoughts about sporting greatness in India being measured by success in quadrennial games.
“Celebration of a person finishing fourth or winning a bronze in Olympics is much more than multiple world titles or someone who has won a medal no one else has,” he said. Success in sport should be measured by consistency in performance and not what happens every four years, he said.
Looking to 2017
Being in the works for nearly two years, Advani said he hoped the cue sports league would start in 2017. “There are also a lot of events to look forward to in 2017 such as the Asian championships in billiards and snooker and the World Games (in Wroclaw, Poland from July 20-30).”
Mehta’s target is to reclaim what was his. In 2013, he was in the top 50 but a neck injury next year led to things going south. After two poor years, he has, in four months, progressed “from thinking he might not play again,” to back in the top 100. While that’s good, it’s not good enough for this England-based professional.