Event The recent inauguration of the pavilion at the Alur three-ground complex was high on cricketing warmth peppered with a few asides on the impending KSCA elections

Last Tuesday witnessed a brief exodus of Karnataka’s leading cricketers to Alur, on the city’s outskirts. Led by the Karnataka State Cricket Association’s leading lights – president Anil Kumble and secretary Javagal Srinath, a group of former cricketers as well as members, trooped into a venue that until recently was known for the landmark-reference-point next to it – Golden Palms Hotel.

Kumble and company were there to unveil the Platinum Jubilee Pavilion that links two grounds in a three-ground complex, a first in the cricket-playing world. “One of our key bylaws state that the association should promote cricket and that’s what we are doing,” said Srinath. Kumble too stressed the ‘here-we-are-for-the-game’ theme and the poignancy was lost on none as he and Srinath have decided to bow out of office instead of contesting the association’s forthcoming elections.

Their retreating steps need not necessarily mean that they would take it easy before eventually leaving their posts and the inauguration of Alur’s pavilion, was a case in point. Without making it sound like a valedictory address, Kumble and Srinath spoke about the improvement in cricketing infrastructure during their three-year tenure.

The Alur 30-acre complex is one among the many projects that the current committee ushered in across the State in places ranging from Shimoga to Hubli with behind-the-scenes man Vijay Bharadwaj playing a key role. However both Kumble and Srinath preferred to downplay their efforts of promoting grassroots cricket and were honest enough to acknowledge that the land for their various infrastructure endeavours were purchased by their predecessors.

The past was not forgotten and the KSCA’s former president K.M. Ramprasad, the chief-guest, launched the pavilion.

Incidentally, Kumble and Srinath reiterated that the land for the Alur facility came into the association’s possession during Ramprasad’s tenure as president.

In a speech marked by candour and humour, Ramprasad spoke about his visits to the then Chief Minister S.M. Krishna with the then KSCA secretary Brijesh Patel.

And then in a classic move of swapping compliments, Ramprasad stressed that it was easier to buy land while it was ‘difficult to build a house.’ He then looked at Kumble and Srinath and added: “You should have continued.”

Wheel-chair bound, Ramprasad though was irrepressible but Kumble and Srinath made it evident that they had made the decision to move on though their eyes would still be on Karnataka cricket. Srinath said tongue-in-cheek: “I believe our friends have done power-point presentations and members were asking about what we have done and so we thought we will get you here for a live presentation.”

In the run-up to the elections, and with rival groups led by Brijesh Patel and Narasimharaja Wadeyar having patched up, insinuations are flying thick and fast but Kumble and Srinath opted to counter everything with grace.

That the KSCA at large and Alur venue specifically, are still works-in-progress was not lost on Kumble and he said: “The designs to build the main pavilion block catering to state of the art players’ rooms, dining, conference, accommodation, office, gym and indoor cricket centre are ready and should be taken up by the next team that will serve this great institution.”

He also hinted at the National Cricket Academy’s interest to use the Alur facility. But beyond infrastructure and pointers towards the association elections, Tuesday’s function was also about cricketers and members revealing camaraderie and also wallowing in nostalgia especially with greats like B.S. Chandrasekhar, E.A.S. Prasanna and Syed Kirmani gracing the front seats and bantering and laughing.

K.C. VIJAYA KUMAR

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