A RARE FEATHER IN SCA’S CAP
Saurashtra failed to make it to the knock-outs of the Vijay Hazare Trophy this season. Mumbai and Gujarat were the two teams that qualified from West Zone. Baroda too couldn't make it past the zonals. But they can take pride of the fact that Saurashtra Cricket Association (SCA) has remained the only association from Gujarat to have won this prestigious national one-day tournament so far when the underdogs went on to clinch the title defeating Bengal in the final in 2008.
Saurashtra is currently going through a transition phase. One of their pillar of strength for years, Shitanshu Kotak, retired last year. But the good thing is that he has taken over as the coach of the team. Also absent is Saurashtra's batting mainstay for the last few years Cheteshwar Pujara and their one of the most dependable all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja both of whom are on national duty most of the time. Their pace spearhead Jaydev Unadkat is also nursing an injury and the newcomer Sudeep Tyagi is yet to find his feet in the team. Dharmendra Jadeja, one of the most promising spinners in Indian cricket at the moment will take some time before he matures into a match-winner. So what skipper Jaydev Shah has in hand right now is a raw but talented bunch of cricketers who, if nurtured properly, can turn into world beaters. But for that to happen, it will take some time and fans of Saurashtra cricket have to have patience and show confidence in this young bunch and wait for them to show maturity in their performance.
The Vijay Hazare Trophy which concluded recently with the final being played in Ahmedabad on November 25, 2014 where Karnataka defeated Punjab convincingly to retain the title also brought to light an equally and more important aspect but which is played away from the boundary line. The knock-out stage of the tournament which was held in Gujarat and organized by the three associations—SCA, Baroda Cricket Association (BCA) and Gujarat Cricket Association (GCA)—actually brought out the organizing capacity and their hospitable nature and kept it in the open. Because the matches were played in a short span of time where each organization needed to handle six to eight teams in one go, the job was not easy. And especially when you also have all the national selectors watching the proceedings closely with the upcoming World Cup in view, the job is doubly difficult. But for someone who has traveled with the teams to all the three venues in the state—Rajkot, Vadodara and Ahmedabad—one can without doubt put it that the SCA beats the other two associations hands down when it comes hospitable and courteous behaviour, infrastructure and comfort of players, officials, fans and the media alike.
After talking to various team members, officials, fans and media person, who were present at the three venues it has come to light that if SCA gets nine marks in a scale of 10 for their effort in putting everything for everybody in place, BCA gets six and GCA gets a poor three. Cricket is a gentleman’s game and it is not only meant to be played like that but it is meant to be organized like that too. This has been a rare feather in SCA’s cap and the whole team, whoever is responsible for even the smallest thing, needs to feel proud of it. Because SCA deserves praise for what they have done and what they have been doing for the sport, sportsmen, officials, fans and media in the last few years.