Rounding off the series on the Capital’s cricket clubs, The Hindu Metroplus looks at some clubs that made a silent yet sterling contribution to the game’s progress
Tucked away in a small corner of a school in West Delhi a 45-year-old club relives its cricket history every Sunday. The training sessions are abandoned only when nature interferes or demands of a competition wean the players away. “Practice never ceases,” says Prahlad Ramrakhiani, an active member of the Indo Cricket Club. Like most clubs in Delhi, Indo CC has its roots in a group of passionate cricketers coming together to give shape to their dreams. “We are a committee of seven people who run the club. The idea is to come together once a week for ‘nets’ and focus on the league matches,” he spells out the philosophy of Indo CC.
In a city that has more than 100 clubs, some iconic, some historic, Indo CC draws inspiration from the fact that cricket develops your character. Ramrakhiani, aware that his club is not the most successful, not the most popular, insists, “It is a club different from all. We did not fare well last season because we were up against very strong clubs. But I told the members to play to their potential and not worry about the opposition. Why get demoralised? Winning and losing is part of the game. Indo CC contributes by giving its best on the field. We’ve never indulged in gamesmanship or unfair means to win.”
Shyam Narayan is a veteran participant. There was a match when Indo fell short of a player and Narayan offered his services. He was 60. For Ramrakhiani, cricket at 57 does not offer excitement, but his devotion to the club attracts him to the MI Khan School in New Rajinder Nagar where the ‘nets’ are held without fail. “We groom and develop players in our way and never stop a youngster from migrating because we want the player to do well. We work on a no-profit-no-loss policy. All the members pay the monthly fee. There is fifty percent discount for students. We have never played an outsider ever and we have 11 next-gen lined up to keep the tradition alive,” Ramrakhiani proudly pronounces.
There is another proud man. T.V. Subramaniam, secretary of the Pelicans Cricket Club, formed in 1975. “It’s basically a coaching centre for budding young cricketers especially from the middle class and economically weaker section of society. Our endeavour has been to provide a platform for these young players to train, play and perform in a game that they are passionate about. By and large the club has been participating in the DDCA league with its own trainees. However, promising young players around Delhi are also given chance as a promotion of the game.”
Subramaniam notes, “Some of the trainees of the club have gone on to play various grades of representative cricket in India. At present the club is conducting nets at the Central Secretariat grounds on weekends and public holidays. We have about 80 youngsters from various age groups attending these nets. Some of the old Pelicans are actively involved in the coaching and administration of the club.”
A feature of the Pelicans Club is conducting cricket tournaments. “The club has so far organized eight tournaments, the last four of which were in the under-14 category with a view to encourage the talent at the grass root level. Despite financial constraints the club has been striving honestly to promote the young and needy talent,” avers Mani.
Telefunken Club is one of the fastest rising cricket forces in the Capital. Coach Madan Sharma’s prize possession is Shikhar Dhawan, both products of the Sonnet Club. As Sharma says, “Ours is a performing club with a reputation to always give a tough fight (in the Premier Division). We never compromise on hard work.” Telefunken has some promising young cricketers like Pawan Suyal, Gaurav Kochar, Vikas Hathwala, Ankit Dabas and Nitin Yadav, all well groomed to excel at the first-class and junior level. The club has a membership of 150-plus with youngsters picked at the age of eight. “We conduct trials before giving membership and we make it clear that no player will come to train at the cost of studies,” adds Sharma.
For N. C. Bakshi of Bright Club, it is a journey that began 35 years ago. “I started the club with a couple of friends. The finances are self-raised and some of it comes from the (DDCA) subsidy. We are not in the race to get our players selected in State teams. We concentrate on playing well,” says Bakshi, who credits Dinesh Saini and former first-class wicketkeeper-batsman Rajeev Vinayak for the club enjoying a good reputation. Saini provides accommodation for outstation Bright Club players and Vinayak ensures the playing equipment is in place for every member.
Delhi’s cricket history is rich with stories of awesome achievements. There are clubs like Little Masters, Rehman, Young Association, Tilak Nagar Colts, Alpine, Essex Farms, Darling, Golden Hawks, K.N. Colts, Kishan Ganj Gymkhana, Pioneer, Sarojini Nagar Gymkhana, South Delhi and Three Star who have made silent, yet sterling, contribution to the game’s progress in the last five decades. They all pledge to continue serving cricket, in their own manner, as glowingly as some of the iconic clubs of the Capital.