ACA North Zone Academy grooms talented cricket players of the zone

A dusty road branches off from the main road after the MVGR College of Engineering at Chintalavalasa, a suburb of Vizianagaram and immediately in front of you is a pleasant view of a billiards table top-like lush green ground and a two-storied building behind it. This is the Andhra Cricket Association’s North Zone Academy established to groom the talented players of the zone. It started functioning from June last year.

The residential academy has all the facilities like 10 nets including one with a cement pitch, a bowling machine and all facilities, decent lodge and boarding facilities for the players in the two storied modern building, a kitchen and dining room. The coaches have separate rooms.

The academy is located on a 10-acre land allotted free of cost by the MVGR College of Engineering, being run by the MANSAS, a trust established by the Vizianagaram royal family long time ago to run educational institutions and conduct charitable programmes for the people.

This academy caters to Srikakulam, Vizianagaram, Visakhapatnam and East Godavari districts (which form North Zone of ACA). Players from Vizianagaram and Srikakulam in particular lack exposure though they are talented and this Academy takes care of such players, says vice-president of ACA and chairman of the academy G.J.J. Raju.

The academy was started with a budget of Rs 8 crore and so far nearly Rs 5 crore have been spent. A single storied building is coming up at the other end of the ground which will have modern dressing rooms for two teams, a gym, rooms for umpires and other officials on the ground floor and four dormitories and 16 single rooms on the first floor. This would accommodate the two teams playing a match on the ground and Ranji and other matches could be hosted here, Raju says.

Later six more nets would be provided along with a proper fence around the ground, though galleries are not planned yet. The two blocks are named after secretary of Vizianagaram District Cricket Association G.V. Ramachandra Raju and former treasurer of ACA late P. Appala Raju. A total of 32 boys in under-14, under-16 and under-19 age groups selected from the four districts are in the academy now.

The ACA is also taking care of their education and the Raghu institutions are providing free education while a few are going to another private college at Dharmapuri and a private school.

ACA established academies in its three zones and this is the first time in the county, says former Andhra Ranji captain M.N. Ravikumar, who is the Zonal Head of the ACA. He is confident that the boys will get a lot of benefit from the academy under chief coach Apoorva Desai, a coach much in demand at the National Cricket Academy. Nirmal Kumar and Vikram Varma are the other coaches and Shashikanth is the trainer.

“The boys are very talented, focussed and hardworking and we are helping them to improve their skills and mental strength,” said Mr. Desai.

A leg-spinner Ch. Y. Srikanth from Rajahmundry and a batsman Ch. Jogesh from Visakhapatnam say the academy has brought about a lot of changes in them. The coaching, practice matches, constant motivation and the international standard facilities have improved their game a lot, the two boys said.