Rahul Dravid, Virender Sehwag, VVS Laxman, Yuvraj Singh,Mohammad Kaif(U.P.), Suresh Raina, Venugopal Rao, Mahendra Singh Dhoni , Harbhajan Singh, Anil Kumble, Zaheer Khan, Irfan Pathan, Laxmipathy Balaji, Ashish Nehra, JP Yadav.
Don’t get me wrong I’m a proud Indian and it does not matter to me if the Indian team is full of players from Karnataka, Delhi or just about any part of India. It is hurting me because Mumbai known for its legacy of cricketers does not have a single representative in the current squad, not even in the reserves! The team hasn’t fared too bad in the Ranji seasons and yet fails to have a single guy on the team.
Mumbai has given India it’s finest two batsmen in Sunil Gavaskar and Sachin Tendulkar. It has given the country stalwarts like Vijay Manjrekar, Ramakant Desai, Eknath Solkar, Ajit Wadekar, Ravi Shastri, Dilip Vengsarkar. India’s middle order often comprised of Mumbai batsman. Till date India always had atleast one Mumbai player in the team.
For a hard core Mumbaikar; cricket is extremely close to the heart.
Pu.La. Deshpande (Finest writers in Marathi Literature) describes the peculiarities of a Mumbaikar and his cricket passion:
‘Kon mhanta cricket ha maidani khel aahe, aamchya Mumbait chalichya gallery madhye sudha test matches chaltat.’
(Who says cricket is a ground sport, in our Mumbai, test matches are also played in our chawls’ galleries)
‘Cricket ha khelnyacha vishay nasun bolnyacha vishay aahe.’
(Cricket is just not a ground sport, it’s a talking sport, cause everyone talks only cricket in Mumbai!)
Another point he makes, ‘When you say History to a Punekar, he will start talking about Bajirao, Sawai Madhavrao Peshwa (The famous Peshwa Dynasty that ruled Pune) and if you say History to a Mumbaikar, he’ll start off with names like Manjrekar, Solkar, Wadekar, Gavaskar etc.
The point Pu. La. has made was simple, that Cricket is in Mumbai’s blood.
The Kanga League matches in the heavy monsoon, the hoards of matches at Shivaji Park, the Oval & Azad Maidan hosting school-college level matches. It’s cricket round the clock, 24X7, 12 months a year in this city of dreams. Then why are this city’s cricket dreams shattering?
Mumbai has had the finest cricket culture in India but somewhere it is declining, the system is flawing and we are not producing the kinds we used to. It is indeed heartening to see guys from small towns making it to the big scene. With little or no facilities at their disposal they have come up through their own hard work and determination and set a fine example for the rest to follow.
What is keeping the Mumbai guys back? Have they become complacent? Have they lost the fighting spirit that the city is well known for? Have the lost the determination to make it big? What is it? He was the answer to the question, ‘Who after Gavaskar?’ But now who after Sachin Tendulkar? How can a Sachin fail to inspire his own city-mates? Any answers?
Come on guys this a huge wake-up call, it’s time you are up on your feet and put Mumbai back onto the map of Indian cricket! We need to carry that cricket heritage forward, keep it alive and never let it fade away!