LAHORE - With club politics and unprofessional and uncouth management holding sway at the Lahore City Cricket Association (LCCA), the nascent careers of several bright young and shining cricketers are under serious threat.
The biggest testimony to the petty politics, its upshot being harassment and sidelining of impressive young talent that had somehow broken through despite a corrupt and inefficient system is being witnessed in the ongoing Lahore District U-19 matches being played at three city grounds in an attempt to raise two teams for Lahore, and ultimately Pakistan U-19 team.
Employing underhand tactics, the team managements are sidelining players under one excuse or the other. These players had been selected through open trial. But now to accommodate their favourites those with some say in the matters in the LCCA are brazenly rejecting merit, with the interim setup in the LCCA looking the other way.
The trouble for players started when after open trials, the LCCA interim setup placed six teams under three zones – North, West and East. For those not in the know, the district cricket in the city is being managed by the zones, headed by an elected body, which at present is mired in all sorts of controversy while their legal status is being challenged by some.
The team management, apart from the elected office-bearers, like coaches and managers, are appointed by the LCCA. It is a bunch of people having great relevance in deciding the team that is going to be fielded. It is here that the dirty tactics come into play, destroying the future of talented youth by not allowing them any part of the action, or switching their positions to favour their blue-eyed boys.
As the players arrived in the domain of zones, it seemed to be altogether different experience for them, at least for the first-timers. For the team managements in every zone, it was time to settle scores with rival clubs, especially the ones that have voted against them in the elections. And they are ready to go to any extent. Out of their enmity for the rivals and to induct some of their favourites, they pick and choose who plays, ignoring the list of players selected initially after trials.
The sources in clubs and LCCA revealed that the zonal managements sideline several players under one pretext or the other. Some were debarred on being dubbed as over-age while others for lack of right kind of documents. Some players were asked even to go through the wrist test to determine age despite no such precondition from the PCB. In the west zone, several new entrants made their way after approval from the president of the LCCA interim setup. As per the rules, the president issues certificate for such players making late entry. As a result, deserving players have been excluded from the competition despite the fact that their documents were scrutinized even before the trials by the management. This practice was repeated by other zones as well, according to these sources.
It has also been learnt that the selectors got surprised to see players either not selected or not as first choice making their way into the playing XIs. Some of them have complained to the president over the wrongdoings of the zones.
The boys from the rival clubs are allowed little chance to show their potential. For example, in a match played at Bagh-e-Jinah the other day, a player recommended as an opening batsman was sent in at No 11. At another match played on the Ittefaq ground, five fast bowlers and two spinners were included in the team, keeping most of the batsmen out of the playing XI.
Some promising youngsters are still waiting to be included in playing XIs but so far they have not been called by the coaches or mangers despite the fact that it is their last chance. A fast bowler from Aligarh Club, who was captain last year so far, could not make into the final team. So frustrated he is that he decided to quit cricket.
The handling of boys by some coaches and managers also leaves bad taste in the mouth. Often echoes of abusive language greet you as soon as you step into the dressing room. The bigger question is: Is there any one taking note of these negative tactics?