Uttar Pradesh has made its presence felt in the cricketing arena by the immense supply of talent to the national team. Ever since Mohammad Kaif made his debut, there has been a stream of players who have represented India at the highest level in all formats of the game. Names like Suresh Raina, RP Singh, Piyush Chawla, Praveen Kumar, Ravikant Shukla have made their state and country proud. This is significant because there was hardly any representation from the state before Kaif. Chief minister Mayawati’s efforts to boost sports in UP and setting up of a stadium and ‘sports city’ in Noida are also a welcome move.
But things are not always as they seem and there is always another side of the coin. The same applies here as well. The eleven young men of Team India are bursting with talent and are the darlings of the nation. A place in Team India is what every young cricketer in the country aspires for. The competition is very tough and for every Dhoni, Pathan or Harbhajan who makes it to the team, countless cricketing dreams go bust every day. And many can’t cope up with the disappointment.
I was in Kanpur to watch third India-South Africa Test encounter. Apart from the match the one story that was doing the rounds was that of Subhash Dixit.
Beside the Green Park Stadium, a heaven for Kanpur’s cricketers, is an eight-storey building called Krishna Tower. (Subhash jumped from the terrace of Krishna Tower and committed suicide)
About 200 metres down the road and on the other side of the stadium, is a small one-storey building that once housed the most famous young talent to have emerged from this cricket ground. Subhash Dixit led the national under 15 team to victory in the Asian championship in Malaysia in the year 2000 and also captained the Under 19 team of UP. But he could never manage to make it to the Uttar Pradesh Ranji Trophy side, and had to struggle to make ends meet, while players like Irfan Pathan, Parthiv Patel who played under him went on to play for India. The former Under-15 skipper, who committed suicide in June, is yet to get acceptance that “he was a cricketer with potential and who was denied his place under the sun.”
UP is a place where you often become mute witness to some ‘jack’ or jugaad (as favouritism is termed in UP). Everyone knows even when an age-group side is picked some candidates find a place because of recommendations and influence. Whether they are talented enough or not is another matter. UPCA (Uttar Pradesh Cricket Association) says that Subhash was a star in wane, and he was never a serious contender for a berth in state squad. But what is disheartening on part of the association is that it never accepted it’s mistakes and washed its hands off the matter saying they have been fair and just in providing enough opportunities to Subhash to prove his mettle.
Friends and fellow players blame the UPCA for Subhash’s death. They say that Subhash’s life could have been saved if he was given support and guidance. Subhash did exceedingly well in Cooch Behar trophy with the scores of unbeaten 143 and 41 and yet he was dropped for couple of bad performances and was never given a second chance. The family of Subhash was also suffering, his grandmother was dead, his grandfather suffering from brain tumour, his father mentally unstable and with his cricketing career in doldrums, there was no choice left for him. After the usual consternation, politicians promised money to his poor family but did not deliver and the UPCA grudgingly gave away one lakh rupees.
I wonder why the system that nurtures you turns its back when you need it the most.
This is not just the story of Subhash Dixit. There are numerous budding cricketers who are forced into the darkness like him. The latest being a woman cricketer Jhuma Sarkar of West Bengal. Perhaps, it is such tragedies in life that have prompted Ambati Rayudu, Subhash’s team mate in that Asia Cup squad, to join the rebel Indian Cricket League where money for the suffering families is a soothing balm at least!
[Image Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/rutty/531442348/]