The Mumbai Cricket Association has been piqued by the tennis ball cricketers. Thousands of players drawn from schools, colleges, restaurants and canteen boys frequent the famous Azad maidan, Cross maidan, Oval maidan at South Mumbai and Shivaji Park on Sundays and other holidays, form teams and engage in matches, most of it for sheer fun sake.
These are public maidans, but according to the MCA, the tennis ball cricketers are allowed to play from 7 to 9.30 am and from 4.45 to 6 pm and in between allow the MCA-run tournaments to be played at the pitches owned by 50 odd clubs. In recent times though, the tennis ball players have refused to leave the ground, hindering the start of the MCA matches. According to a MCA press release, the tennis ball cricketers, when persuaded to leave the ground, have gone to the extent of assaulting the players and umpires.
As a result, the MCA has sought help from the Maharashtra Home Minister R. R. Patil to sort out this issue. The association also sought security from police. “It’s becoming very difficult. The tennis ball cricketers pitch stumps on plots owned by clubs and damage them,’’ said Nitin Dalal, Jt. Secretary, MCA.