A young cyber-friend Jason Monserrate (jasonzcrazy at yahoo.com of Santa Cruz, Goa) sent in this interesting post to Goanet recently. It’s about a field I’m quite illiterate about (or chose to be so, since my schooldays, when I was intensely hooked onto following sport):
There are 4 test cricketers of Goan origin, two for India and two for Pakistan. Wallis Mathias and Antao D’Souza have both played for Pakistan in the 1950s and early 60s.
Dilip Sardesai, who opened the batting for India on the West Indies tour of 1971 is Goan. Paras Mhambrey, the fast bowler, who went to England with the Indian team in 1996 is originally from Aldona.
A number of Goans have played cricket for East African countries. Unfortunately, we do not know much details, due to lack of records available. A few names that are prominent are Jack Britto for Malawi and Alban Fernandes for Tanzania as also Lawrence Fernandes for a combined East African side in 1967-1968.
More recently, Rahul Keni and Saurabh Bandekar played for the India U-19 team. Saurabh played a vital role in India’s runner-up performance at the U-19 Cricket World Cup.
It is true that a state that has produced 52 internationals for India (excluding age group internationals) in soccer should produce atleast a decent amount in cricket as well. Swapnil Asnodkar, our best cricketer at the moment, is in the South Zone team.
Cricket is very popular in Goa, but it is the tennis ball variety. For some players, the transition to whites and pads and red balls is hard to make. Some fit in easily, but opt out to concentrate on academics or other career options. Another reason could be that the season-ball cricket culture in Goa (We have no Shivaji Park) is not as big as the some of the major cities in India, and very good players, lose out due to the lack of facilities and infrastructure. Incidentally, Goa is one of the top states in tennis-ball cricket in the country and has produced a fair number of internationals in this less glamorized version of cricket.
Besides VB Chandrashekhar, a number of former India players have played for Goa. Roger Binny, Praveen Amre, Nikhil Haldipur are a few names that come to mind. We have even had former internationals as Goa coaches. Balwinder Singh Sandhu and Kenia Jayantilal are a couple. The newspapers say Dodda Ganesh has been assigned the responsibility of coaching the Goa team and will be the current coach.
Getting international players and coaches will not help Goan cricket as much as having a proper and easily accessible cricket facilities, equipment and good pitches (not matted pitches) would.
There is so much potential for the cricket administrative brains in the state to develop enthusiasm for the game. A national level 20-20 tournament will go very well not only with the public, but also with sponsors, and with the sponsors and money around, you can expect the big names in Indian cricket to be in as well. Hong Kong has its own tournament called the Sixes, which is very popular. There is no reason why a similiar experiment would not work at the Panjim Gymkhana, arguably one of the most scenic grounds in the country.
Cricket should not go the hockey way. Today if you are a good hockey player in Goa, you need to go to Mumbai to get decent exposure and be noticed because to put it straight, hockey in Goa is gone to the dogs!
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