HT Image
HT Image

It happens in India too

The relentless and the hectic domestic cricket itenerary in India takes its toll on the players, reports Varun Gupta
Hindustan Times | By Varun Gupta, Vishakhapatnam
UPDATED ON MAR 20, 2008 12:23 PM IST

It is a breathtaking sight watching the evening sun descend and eventually merge into the placid waters of the Bay of Bengal but North Zone's players were in no condition to admire the view.

One cricketer was fast asleep and the others were so worn out by the endless waiting and travelling of the last few days that the view was "least of their priorities".

Welcome to the cheerless world of domestic cricket, far removed from the glamourous world of international cricket. The same players who are treated as demi-gods when they represent India barely have a say when it comes to travel or logistics in domestic cricket. The attitude of officials is epitomised by the way the teams' itinerary has been chalked up for the ongoing Deodhar Trophy.

North played their first match in Bangalore on Monday against Central, but while the Central players were at the KSCA for a good three hours the day before, North players only had time for a half-hour session of limbering up and gentle knocking. They reached Bangalore at around 3 pm as their 9 am flight from Delhi had been delayed. What's more, they were unable to inspect the wicket as it had been covered by the time they arrived.

Although officials can't be blamed for the flight delay, they were responsible for making the team reach Bangalore only a day before their opening match.

The story didn't end here for the hapless North players. After playing on Monday, rather than unwinding and resting their "fatigued bodies and minds", they were packing their "coffins" and clothes to leave at 4 am the next day to take a flight to Hyderabad --- scheduled to leave at 6 am --- from where they would board another one to Vizag, their ultimate destination.

However, they had to nearly five hours at the Hyderabad airport as their connecting flight to Vizag was at 12:30 pm. As a result, they reached their destination at around two after an eight-hour backbreaking journey.

North players suffered this fate because the BCCI has a deal with Jet Airways, which gives the Board 40 per cent off on all its flights. As a result, the BCCI prefers Jet to any other airline, even if it means forfeiting the chance to take a direct flight.

Sushil Kumar, manager of North Zone, curtly said, "The DDCA is responsible for the travel arrangements." When asked, a senior DDCA official expressed helplessness. "What can we do if Jet Airways does not have a direct flight to Vizag? We are bound by rules."

While North have all their remaining matches in Vizag, the other teams --- East, West, South and Central --- have to alternate between Bangalore, Hyderabad and Vizag.

A senior West player, who did not want to be named, said, "They keep talking about the money and how things are going to improve. But the truth is no one is bothered about us."

A Central Zone player voiced the same opinion. "The Board doesn't give importance to domestic players. We have been travelling non-stop for almost a year. We stay in rundown hotels and travelling is equally bad. The least we can ask for is a little consideration."

Story Saved