Hyderabad is yet to produce a quality leg-spinner since M. V. Narasimha Rao, more popularly known as ‘Bobji', was the last cricketer to have donned the State colours with distinction including being a member of the 1987 Ranji Trophy winning squad. And so when this gentleman cricketer, who has been based in Ireland for almost two decades now, has every qualification to offer his services to lend a helping hand to Hyderabad cricket which is still languishing in the Plate Group of the prestigious Ranji Trophy national championship.
Interestingly, besides Bobji, the former Test cricketer who played under Sunil Gavaskar's captaincy against Alvin Kallicharan's team in 1979, there was also another former Test star Syed Abid Ali (now in US but in apparent financial distress following the tragic death of his only son) too keen to give back something to the sport back home.
With the much-talked Hyderabad Cricket Academy of Excellence functioning at Gymkhana Grounds (though many HCA officials vociferously argue that the Academy is yet to get the Executive Committee clearance to start with), Bobji, who is back home on a holiday now, should find the ambience at Academy venue just pleasant enough to revive his hopes of contributing to Hyderabad cricket. For right now, HCAE has another former Ranji captain and former Indian team manager Dr. M. V. Sridhar as the Director with a panel of coaches including S. L. Venkatapathi Raju, Vijay Mohan Raj, Noel David, P. Ramesh Kumar working for the same objective – to improve the standard of the game.
“I always believe that being a qualified coach from England and the rich experience of being with many Irish internationals I can be of some value,” insists Bobji.
The response from the Hyderabad Cricket Association is not pretty clear and unless the former Test star is given a clear-cut programme which should involve him over a period of time – say for a minimum of three years - it will be too naive to hazard any guess.
“Well, if you want to be the coach of any team, you should have a long-term plan and Hyderabad team is no different,” says Bobji.
His commitment to the art of coaching can be guessed from the plain fact that he makes it a point to spend as much time as possible at St. John's Coaching Foundation in Secunderabad.
“I can't be away from these things especially when I have a chance to be with the kids,” says the articulate Bobji.
No doubt, HCA has already the coaches in place for different teams but given that it has some inclination to be more serious by way of starting the academy with the specific objective of ensuring training the young and the established right through the years, it would be interesting to see how HCA responds to the interest of two of the best-known faces of yesteryears – Narasimha Rao and Abid Ali.