Less than 24 hours after his 12-year-old son Aryan, playing for Don Bosco (Matunga), suffered an injury during a Giles Shield Elite Division tie against Al Barkat MMI (Kurla) at Cross Maidan, former India cricketer Sanjay Bangar lodged an official protest, claiming the Kurla school fielded over-age players. Bangar wrote to both — tournament organisers Mumbai Schools Sports Association (MSSA) as well as the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) — claiming that the over-age menace is leading to injuries to young players and hampering the game at the grassroot level.
The Don Bosco school authorities also sent an official letter to the MSSA claiming that as many as five Al Barkat players were overage.
Bangar Sr told MiD DAY: “Just to ensure that their reputation is intact, schools often field a team with over-age players in the lower age-group tournaments. I have asked the the MSSA and MCA to look into this issue as such problems lead to younger players like Aryan getting injured, besides their morale taking a beating too. I understand that MSSA do not have the funds to conduct bone tests of players, but I hope the MCA intervenes and takes some strict action against the school.”
MCA vice-president Vinod Deshpande assured they will look into the problem. “We will take necessary action in the matter,” he said.
MSSA cricket secretary HS Bhor, however, claimed there was no issue with the players’ ages. “Going by the documents we have, there is no age issue here,” he said.
Al Barkat coach Nafees Khan was livid. “In the first round of the tournament, when Don Bosco captain Bhupen Lalwani scored 398, nobody questioned his age. We have done nothing wrong and are ready to face consequences,” he said.