Cricket’s enormity in India is well known. No other sport in this country generates as much revenue as cricket. In the recent years, cricket in this country has not only reached out to grass root level but also spread its wings in other ways. Cricket has also become a mode of motivation for those who are physically challenged. The recent success of the visually impaired Indian team for winning the World T20 tournament is ultimate proof of that.
Not many are aware of the other form of cricket that was started in last few years —All India Cricket Association for Physically Challenged, which is being run by former Indian skipper Ajit Wadekar and is also the President of the association. The rules of Physically Challenged cricket is almost same as the usual one. To explore more our correspondent Abhishek Kumar recently spoke to star cricketer Anshul.
The Delhi-based Anshul has represented the national team of physically challenged. In the recently concluded All India Physically Challenged Zonal T20 LIC Trophy at the iconic Shivaji Park of Mumbai, Anshul represented North Zone side and was awarded with Man of the Tournament award for his impressive performances. He went on to score a total of 136 runs and grabbed 8 wickets in the tournament. His performances includes a fifty and a five-wicket haul from four matches. Besides the prestigious Man of the Tournament Trophy, Anshul was presented with a kit bag from former Indian pacer Karsan Ghavri. However there was no prize money.
Anshul does not considers himself being differently abled or physically challenged.
“I don’t think I am a physically challenged person. I don’t feel any problem while playing. I also play in DDCA league,” Anshul said.
Anshul was almost 9 when in 2003, an infection which eventually led him to a situation where he now plays in Physically Challenged cricket.
“I suffered an infection in 2003 in my right side of my hip because of falling from cycle. Doctor advised to cut the infected part of else it would spread in the entire leg, which will be very dangerous,” Anshul narrated.
In medical terms, Anshul suffered from Tubercular Arthritis in right hip. Anshul further spoke about how his family supported, especially his father, who is like an inspiration to him. “Family support was always there. My father used to play cricket and he still plays. I learned cricket by watching my father play. He has played with almost all the big players of Delhi,” added the 22-year-old.
“I used to play cricket since my childhood days. I used to be with my father when he played his cricket. He is my biggest inspiration. He inspired me to keep playing cricket,” added Anshul.
Anshul then revealed how he came to know about Physically Challenged cricket. Anshul says: “It has been around 5-6 years since I have been playing Physically Challenged cricket. Actually, my coach Sanjay Raut saw me playing and then told my father about this Physically Challenged cricket, where handicapped people can play this sport at state and country level as well. So, my father sent me there and then how it all started. Currently, Ramesh Chopra is my coach and he has taught me all the basics of the game and he has helped me a lot in my growth.”
Later, Anshul went on to play for India and he further spoke about his experience of representing the nation. “Later I played for India in 2015 against Bangladesh in Dhaka. I was also awarded with Man of the Match award and I was only Indian to get that award in that tour.”
It is a sad part that Physically Challenged cricket is not given much value and looking at that part, Anshul hopes to get a job in the same field in future. “Talking about future, my goal is to continue playing cricket and get a job in the same field or in any through sports quota. I am only 22 and am doing my graduation in Bachelors in Arts first year through School of Open Learning and if I get a job somewhere through sports quota, then it would be great for me,” Anshul expressed.
At one end there is the lucrative Indian Premier League (IPL) and talks about increased payment for national cricketers, ironically, here we have another bunch of national cricketers, who have to worry about survival. Adding to their woes is the fact that they are differently abled.
“Since this [Physically Challenged cricket] is not recognised by BCCI currently, there is nothing to expect. Whatever we get is close to nothing. We do not get anything in fact. But still happy that we have got opportunities to show our talent. There is nothing like sponsors as well. But Association pays for our travelling expense and that is why I managed to play the LIC Trophy in Mumbai,” Anshul highlights the plights.
In December 2015, Wadekar and Ravi Chauhan, the founder Secretary of Physically Challenged Cricket Association of India were given the assurance of the association getting affiliation from BCCI. The then BCCI president Shashank Manohar had assured the same. But nothing has come into news related to affiliation of AICAP by BCCI. Let us hope the new members of board may consider this in future.
There are three prominent associations in India promoting physically challenged cricket — Mumbai-based AICAPC, Haryana-based PCCAI and Lucknow-based Indian Cricket Federation for Disabled (ICFD). Countries like England, Bangladesh and Pakistan have taken physically challenged cricketers under its wing. The BCCI affiliation will not only help in differently abled players getting recognition but also will also help them attracting sponsors.