Close on the heels of their decision to ban 16 over-aged players from the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) summer vacation tournaments and coaching camps (as reported by this newspaper on May 4), the MCA has now banned another 28 players, who were found allegedly overage from U-14 to U-23, said a report in this paper yesterday.
The cricket body is determined it says to weed out the overage malaise from sport. Those who follow local tournaments at school and college level will know that overage players are an unfortunate but common reality here, local sports organisations have been trying for years to clamp down on overage players in sport.
Age-fudging needs to be tackled by going to the roots of the issue. Why are schools at first not checking the ages of the players they field? Do they know that these players are over age? Are coaches complicit in fielding overage players? It is difficult to understand why coaches are not checking the age of the players before fielding them in teams.
Action against age-fudging need not be restricted to players. It needs to have a much broader ambit. Hold the institutions that field such players responsible too.
Finally, what role are local coaches playing? Is some organisation responsible for printing bogus age certificates and passing them on to players? It is time then, to find out if this is a well-oiled cheating system and can be rooted out through professionals finding about this and busting the racket. A few local officials may not be able to uproot this completely. It is too ingrained and temporary bans are a stopgap measure for what has become endemic in the system. We need a rethink and much harsher measures like investigations by police to get to the bottom of age-fudging and obliterate it completely.