Hyderabad cricket is in a pitiable state. It has recently recorded its worst ever performance in the Ranji Trophy Championship. In the past Hyderabad used to be known for it’s daredevilry. Its batsmen never hesitated to play their shots. The bowlers used to be very crafty – especially the spinners who were among the best in India. They could break the spine of the strongest batting line ups. Hyderabad also used to be a rival that the big guns took very seriously.
Now Hyderabad has declined to unprecedented depths in the Ranji trophy. The six defeats are testimony to the team’s abject failure. Hyderabad finished with just one point from seven matches and was demoted to the Plate group for the next season. This is the third time that Hyderabad has faced this ignominy.
Those who love Hyderabad cricket passionately are in despair. How long will this torture go on? How many defeats and humiliations will it take to shake the HCA administration out of its slumber?
The famous basketball coach of the USA, John Robert Wooden once said something that applies very aptly to Hyderabad’s present condition. He said: “Failure against rivals is not fatal. But failure to change one’s methods can be fatal.” Meaning, the best of teams may fail from time to time. But as long as they learn from that failure and change their methods, they are safe. Success will come one day. But in Hyderabad, no lesson has been learnt from failures and nothing has changed.
Year after year we see the same story being repeated. The internal squabbling between administrators continues endlessly. The local league cricket is not being conducted in a systematic and progressive manner. Recently the media exposed how the increase in the number of teams has led to a further increase in malpractices.
A former well experienced state player who is now a top official in one of the cricket clubs told this correspondent that in 2019-2020 the number of teams in the A-1 Division 3-Day league was suddenly increased from 18 to 35 without any rhyme or reason. Now the number has risen further.
“This has brought down the standard at the topmost level of the Hyderabad leagues. Because players can now score a century or take five wickets against obscure rivals and thereby stake a claim for a place in the state side. In the season of 2021-2022 the same story was repeated. And this season has started badly again. Things are going wrong because rules are being flouted regularly with utter impunity,” he pointed out.
“When so many teams are playing, obviously there is a lack of top quality grounds. What is the standard of the pitches and outfields on which league matches are played? Does anybody pay any attention to these important aspects of the game? On poorly maintained grounds, players cannot show their skill. There is enough money in the game to improve infrastructure. But it is not being done. If the conduct of league tournaments does not improve, it logically follows that there will be no improvement in Hyderabad cricket,” he lamented.
Another official pointed out that many questionable decisions were made in Hyderabad’s participation in domestic tournaments. Many choices were haphazard and irrational. For the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy tournament, seven different opening pairs were tried out. Eleven new players made their debut. Players with immense potential were overlooked and players with little experience and poor scores were selected. Players who succeeded in one match found themselves dropped for the next match. There was not even a semblance of stability in the side. The coaching staff consisted of only one head coach without any assistant coach or fielding coach.
As the saying goes in all sports, the grassroots level is where the talent takes root. That organisation which can improve cricket at the lowest level will rise to great heights at the topmost level. But in Hyderabad nobody seems to care. The HCA seems to have developed a skin so thick that the worst humiliation cannot bring about a sense of shame.