Clubs are the nurseries of cricket where young boys learn the game, are groomed, trained and polished to reach the national level. A club remains the grass roots institution from where players go up the ladder of professional cricket to one day become international super stars. Grounds are a basic necessity for the development of sport and the creation of sportsmen. The cricket grounds also serve the nation as dignified avenues for physical exercise and are an absolute necessity for good health and physical fitness of its youth. As the people of Lahore are crazy about cricket, you get to see young boys here flailing bats at the ball everywherein gardens, parks, roads, streets or any vacant patch that could make a pitchanywhere on the cityscape. This fervour is the fuel which lights flame of the game so bright in this country. But the light is in danger of being put out in Lahore due to ham-handedness of a band of callous officials that control the Punjab Horticulture Authority (PHA). You see, the city is studded with a number of grounds that cricket clubs and associations have turned into cricket greens from the barren, brown patches they were, entirely at their own cost. These grounds are, however, too few for the number of clubs we have so each ground is shared for net practice by five to ten clubs. Unfortunately, the grounds do not belong to these clubs or the associations that run them but remain property of the government. As per the system that has worked well for decades, these grounds were given to the clubs or the cricket association on a soft lease of a few thousand rupees per year. Since the private clubs are not financially rich, the system suited them well. Unfortunately, as the PHA fell in a financial crunch usual of most government departments, it took the sordid step of placing the cricket grounds for public auctions on commercial basis in order to make money. PHA considers this a seam of golda resource for making millions. That is why it has issued a notice for open auction of a dozen major grounds of the city being used by cricket clubs. The bureaucrats at PHA are unable to think what great damage they are about to inflict upon Lahores club cricket, indeed upon the game countrywide. We keep hearing of steps by the government to promote cricket but, unfortunately, we usually get only this sort of mindless actions that are likely to put it on a path of extinction. -RAFI NASIM, Lahore, July 13.