Girls off to U-19 cricket event have no practice space, kits
GURUGRAM: “This is the situation every year when it rains,” says seventeen-year-old Bharati Kashyap, her eyebrows rushing together in disappointment, as she set foot on the flooded cricket ground inside the Kadipur Government Senior Secondary School on Sunday. She was there with her team to practise for the under-19 state women’s cricket competition in Yamunanagar which is barely a fortnight away.
Bharti, a migrant from Kanpur, has won many state-level cricket tournaments and brought laurels to the state. But she has no place to practise regularly, sometimes for weeks.
The only ground in the village — the school ground — is barely useable in the monsoon, and even when it is, lacks amenities.
“The ground turns into a swimming pool in the monsoon and it takes weeks to dry out. Even after the water clears, the ground is not suitable for preparing ourselves for the kind of pitches we encounter during tournaments,” complained Bharati, who is an opener in the Gurugram district cricket team that won the Under-17 tournament in Kaithal this August. Nine players of the district team were from this school.
In February, the sports room in the school caught fire in which most of the kit got destroyed.
Before the tournament, Maruti sponsored the team and provided a kit worth Rs 1 lakh but last month, the entire kit got stolen in a burglary in the school.
“We don’t have proper bats or new balls. We are playing with old and worn-out balls. This is a big disadvantage because during the tournament, new balls are used which swing a lot in the first few overs. As an opener I need to master the art of managing the swings,” Bharati pointed out.
Lamenting how the quality of the ground is preventing the girls from honing their skills, right-arm pacer Pooja Mehra, 19, originally from Rajashthan, says, “There’s no turf and we play on cemented pitch. My bowling skill suffers as I can’t judge the bounce or swing I’d be able to generate during matches. We also injure ourselves while fielding on the concrete grounds.”
Commenting on the pitiable condition of the ground, the school management told TOI that the ground is in a low-lying area which leads to waterlogging. Ground-leveling work was being carried out by the principal with the help of local councillors and political leaders but had to be stopped because of the heavy rainfall. There are better grounds in neighbouring villages but Ajit Daghar, the coach of the team, shared that these girls don’t have the financial means to travel 20-25 kilometres to reach them.
“These girls come from underprivileged households, with most of their parents working as causal labourers. They can’t afford the commuting expense. Once or twice a week, I take them to these grounds but that isn’t enough,” he says. He points out that camps and practice matches are organized for the men’s cricket team but the district women’s team is deprived of this.
On multiple occasions, Ajit says, the girls have written to the administration. The District Sports Officer (DSO) even assured support but hasn’t done anything beyond that, he alleged.
When contacted, DSO Raj Yadav, claimed that the school and the team doesn’t fall in her jurisdiction and she has nothing to do with them. She refused to even acknowledge the fact that these players have participated in state-level tournaments.
Bharti wants to represent India in women’s cricket world cup but her ambition might just be crushed under the apathy of the district sports department.