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Cricketing heritage lies in shambles

On Saturday, April 20 this paper ran a front-page piece on the Dr H D Kanga Memorial Library, housed at the Wankhede Stadium. The library is Asia’s biggest, and probably, the city’s only sports library.

For many who have cherished memories of this institution, the present condition is deeply disappointing. It is in ruins, the condition of books is unsatisfactory. Overall maintenance and administration too comes up short and it is evident that this 62-year-old library needs a saviour desperately.

While the stadium itself has had a facelift, the cricket establishment’s offices have been spruced up; the library stands in much need of a complete overhaul. This amounts to not understanding the value of the treasures housed therein.

Because the habit of reading and its benefits are intangible, evident inwardly only to the reader, it is easy to dismiss libraries and books as things of little consequence, or at least of secondary interest.

It is also important to note that while the literary world of cricket is celebrating the launch of the 150th edition of the Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack, the only library in India that can boast of an impressive set of Wisdens dating back to the late 1880s is waiting to be treated better. The first edition was published in 1864.

Cricket thrives on statistics and cricket lovers live and breathe numbers. We have always been accused of not treating our heritage right —buildings, structures, monuments lie in ruins or stand defaced. Let us not treat our cricketing or sporting heritage in the same way, letting it fall into dereliction and decay.

Cricket is the country’s richest sport and its copious funds deserve a doff of the hat to its administrators too. Maybe some of these funds could be used for better upkeep of the library, just so that we do not lose these priceless books.

After all, this library is a place, which lives, breathes and speaks of cricket anecdotes too delightful to be ignored. This voice should not go unheard or be snuffed out. Save the Kanga Library — now.

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