After IPL, ‘phataphat cricket’ catches on in Agra (Lead)

May 25th, 2009 - 4:43 pm ICT by IANS  

By Brij Khandelwal
Agra, May 25 (IANS) The Indian Premier League craze has transformed the city of the Taj Mahal and other smaller towns in this region into nurseries of ‘phataphat cricket’ (Twenty20), with scores of summer cricket camps attracting hundreds of youngsters who dream to make it big.

“There could be around a thousand youngsters being groomed right now in at least half a dozen camps in the city. I launched one Thursday evening for 50 poor children of slums,” formula car racer and shoe exporter Har Vijay Singh Bahia told IANS.

He said the students are inspired by the success of Twenty20 matches and parents also want to see their children as future cricketers.

Subhash Jha, a development functionary of the state government, said: “Cricket has spread like fire in all areas. They (the children) are no longer playing gulli-danda or marbles, but cricket, watching videos of cricket matches or listening to TV commentary. They all have picked up the cricket lingo.”

Khwaja Nishad Hussain has been running the St John’s College Cricket camp since 1990 that has seen a stream of cricketers like Chetan Chauhan, Chetan Sharma, Yashpal, Manoj Prabhakar and Vijay Yadav spending time to groom the children. “Right now we have 180 kids in the age group of 6 to 15. Each year we have been sending out cricketers for various ‘under’ slots and they all have done exceptionally well,” Hussain told IANS.

“Long back Mohammed Azharuddin visited the academy at the Eklavya Stadium. That really motivated the kids to put up a good show. Not only boys, Agra girls too have been doing well, like Hemlata Kala and Priti Dimri, who are part of the national women’s team.”

He said the growing popularity of Twenty20 and Indian Premier League (IPL) matches or “phataphat cricket” has given a fresh impetus to the aspirants and the cricket fraternity.

After the success of such matches, children are getting support of their parents who see in this format of cricket “a short cut to success”, Hussain said.

The RBS School of Cricket has been coaching young cricketers in Agra for more than a decade under the watchful eyes of yesteryears’ radio commentator S.V.S. Chauhan. Regular practice sessions are also being held at the St John’s College camp here.

Regular cricket academies have also been organising coaching camps for toddlers and children in Hathras, Aligarh, Firozabad and Mathura. “Their passion and commitment is amazing and their knowledge of cricket mind-boggling,” says sports writer Pramod Qadir.

“You now have a tournament in every colony, among business and market associations, schools, colleges, everyone hoping to strike gold in the national or international tournament,” said Hari Mohan, a veteran cricketer of the city.

“Who knows, a Sachin or a Munaf will emerge on the scene. The emphasis is on cricket for a fast buck,” says educationist V.P. Singh.

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