Hyderabad: The affairs of the Hyderabad Cricket Association are descending to new depths every day. Fresh records of sublime folly are being created on a daily basis. The sight of the Vice President John Manoj and the Secretary Vijayanand having to conduct their press conference on the road in front of the locked gates of the Gymkhana ground was shocking and disgraceful, said many eminent players.
Even former players like Kawaljit Singh and Venkatapathi Raju who stay away from HCA politics, were moved enough to express their dismay at the way things are going. Enough is enough they said. Former Test cricketer Arshad Ayub not only said that it was unfair but also raised a very valid point when he questioned how the five Apex Council members could be disqualified without being given a hearing.
The gates of a ground where players are meant to practice and play cricket, were locked and nobody was allowed to enter. “Azharuddin and his supporters are behaving like dictators,” said John Manoj. One can easily imagine what effect such incidents are having on the minds of the players of the state who are already demoralised by the daily squabbling.
Many players, officials and sports journalists have openly expressed their derision and ridiculed the shameful scenes that are being witnessed daily in Hyderabad. The needs of cricket are being neglected. The infrastructure is deteriorating. Grounds are no longer maintained. Many are not even fit to hold cricket matches. But the farcical infighting goes on.
What will be the fate?
A few days ago, a development took place that should serve as a warning for the HCA. But the office bearers who are busy hurling allegations against each other, may not be aware of it at all. The development was related to the scandalous mismanagement that affected the functioning of the Jammu and Kashmir Cricket Association.
The news came that the BCCI has formed a three-member administrative sub-committee to look after the affairs of the JKCA headed by Brigadier Anil Gupta along with advocate Sunil Sethi and former first class cricketer Mithun Manhas. They will coordinate with the BCCI on all matters until the elections are held again.
So is this going to be Hyderabad’s fate too? Are we also going to see some outsiders foisted upon us by the BCCI to direct the affairs of Hyderabad cricket? It will be a hard slap on the face of those who have let Hyderabad down with their daily blame game.
However, there seems to be no other option. Strong medicine has to be administered to the patient to save his life. The voices calling for drastic measures by the BCCI are growing stronger. We have had enough, many players are saying. Like the JKCA, now Hyderabad too is in a mess. Dirty linen is being washed in public and the entire country knows by now that Hyderabad cricket affairs are in worthless hands.
The repercussions of infighting are bound to be disastrous. Not only on the administrative front but also the actual sport itself. What will hurt the sport most will be that talented players will head out of the state. Several have already done so and more are likely to follow. Hanuma Vihari is the most prominent name in this context. Within the present framework where there is colossal mismanagement and corruption, opportunities will dwindle for genuinely talented players. The only way out for them will be to seek better organised centres like Mumbai or Chennai.
A former player who had represented Hyderabad for several years, expressed his deep anguish. “I had played on the same team with these people who are now officials. We were good friends and we had fought shoulder to shoulder for the cause of Hyderabad. But now I cannot understand them. A wide gulf has opened up. Where are the values? Where are the principles? I am sad to say this, but they are no longer sportsmen,” he lamented.
So that is the bleak scenario that Hyderabad cricket is looking at. Genuine friends and honest sportsmen will distance themselves from Hyderabad. It will be damned and will be dubbed as a tainted organisation being run by venal and inept officials. The daily infighting is a sad saga indeed in a state which had produced the cream of India’s cricket talent and it bodes ill for the future. Only the intervention of the BCCI can save Hyderabad now.
Abhijit Sen Gupta is a seasoned journalist who writes on Sports and various other subjects.