MCA's dictation leaves Mumbai's top schools uneasy
MUMBAI: It's a familiar story every year, and it leaves you
wondering where does school cricket stand in the eyes of the Mumbai Cricket
A clash of schedules has left the top cricketing schools of the city a bit worried ahead of the next round of the Giles Shield (Under-14) Super League matches, which are to be held on January 14 to 15. On Friday, the MCA, while announcing a squad of 14 for the West Zone Under-14 league tournament, which will be held in Mumbai this time, made it clear that the selected players would not be available to play in the next round of the age-old tournament.
The MCA's decision has obviously not gone down well with either the school coaches or the Mumbai School Sports Association (MSSA).
"The MCA had given us this schedule almost a month ago. If they knew the dates of this tournament, why did they allot us the dates? The top eight schools will play in this round. Our semi-finals are scheduled for January 17 to 18. And now, the MCA sends us and the schools a circular that the picked players can't play in this round of the Giles Shield," said MSSA secretary Nadeem Memon.
"What's the logic behind this decision? It hurts the prospects of the competing schools, who're eyeing a berth in the semi-finals. As a youngster, do you develop by getting quality match practice on a good ground, or checking into a hotel? The West Zone games are in Mumbai only, so the players can easily join the team after turning out for their school. Earlier in the season too, the MCA had scheduled a tour to Andhra Pradesh for the Mumbai U-14 team as the same time as the Super League of the Harris Shield, before we forced them to cancel it," he lamented.
"If the best players of the school aren't able to play in the big matches, then what's the point of inter-school cricket? When at the senior level, you allow the players to play for their club or company, even a day before a Ranji Trophy game, then why not do the same for junior cricket?" fumed Raju Pathak, coach of Rizvi Springfield, who are losing three of their main players - Owais Shaikh, Owais Khan and Mohit Tanwar - due to this reason.
"The kids are able to play cricket because the school gives so many concessions to do so. The MCA should allow the kids to play for their school. These same selectors who've picked the Mumbai U-14 team have played for their school and then turned out for the Mumbai U-16 and U-19 team the day itself. I myself was a selector in those days. I never stopped the kids to play for their school," said Gopal Koli, coach of IES VN Sule Guruji, who is set to miss their key player Raj Deshmukh.
A few coaches, however, are willing to understand the issue from the MCA's perspective too. "This is what the youngsters play cricket for - to represent Mumbai is their dream. However, you should allow the kids to play competitive cricket. Anyway, we have to follow the MCA's decision. All the teams are losing one or two players, so it all evens out in the end," said Nafees Khan, coach of Al-Barkaat Defending the decision, an MCA official said: "We don't want the kids to play matches three days prior to the Mumbai match because they may get injured, which is possible considering the rough surfaces of some of these local grounds."