Mumbai was ‘the’ cricket team to be in for cricketers before the turn of the millennium.
Not anymore. The tide has changed. Several Mumbai cricketers have moved to other state teams and the latest to join players like Ramesh Powar, Amol Muzumdar and Wasim Jaffer is 17-year-old Sarfaraz Khan.
India under-19 batsman Sarfaraz, who caused a buzz with his batting talent for Royal Challengers Bangalore in the last edition of the Indian Premier League, got a No Objection Certificate from the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) to play for Uttar Pradesh from the new season.
His father and mentor Naushad said that his son is being guaranteed a place in the Uttar Pradesh team and further justified the move by stressing that they hail from Uttar Pradesh.
The buck stops with the player, of course, but the mandarins of the MCA should be concerned about such exits. Sarfaraz may not have hit the high notes in the three first-class games he got last season in which he scored one half-century, but he’s a player worth persisting with. While you expect that tolerance from good selectors, players have become increasingly impatient to get a regular slot in the playing XI.
It’s a good time for the selectors to look at youth to help Mumbai get their hands on the Ranji Trophy again.
It cannot be said for sure, but Sarfaraz may have wanted to move on because of the punishment meted out to him for making an obscene gesture during a Mumbai under-19 match last season. The MCA withheld his match fees for a year, which is going too far, and the residual effect of that controversy stung. He should have been either fined or let off.
Mumbai cricket has not scored high on the administrative front and it has contributed to some pretty ordinary on-field performances.
The new chapter which has been opened post the elections promises a good read. Meanwhile, Sarfaraz’s new phase looks promising and Mumbai shouldn’t be less proud of his talent.