Coaches of some of the schools participating in the Mumbai Schools Sports Association (MSSA) Giles Shield Plate Division U-14 inter-school cricket tournament are crying foul over MSSA's decision to ban them despite possessing the mandatory Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) registration cards.

Dejected players after their MSSA Giles Shield match was called off at Azad Maidan yesterday. Pic/Atul Kamble
Dejected players after their MSSA Giles Shield match was called off at Azad Maidan yesterday. Pic/Atul Kamble

Rajhans Vidyalaya (Andheri), SAS Billabong (Mahim), Lilavatibai Podar ICSE (Santacruz) and Jamnabai Narsee International (Juhu) yesterday came to Azad Maidan for their fixtures with their MCA cards in hand, but were banned as MSSA claimed they did not complete the MCA registration in time.

Ironically, there is no last date for completion of these registration mentioned in MSSA's tournament rules. As per the MSSA circular, all players must possess an MCA card as well as MSSA card to be eligible to play in the inter-school cricket tournaments. The rule further states that a duly filled detailed list of 18 players must be sent to MSSA by January 30, but there is no mention of the cut off date for the MCA registration cards.

Yesterday, riding on Abbas Karachiwala's unbeaten century, Lilavatibai Podar beat SAS Billabong by 118 runs, but both teams were barred from the tournament as they had one player each whose MCA card was registered on February 2, which according to MSSA is late.

'Why blame coaches?'
Lilavatibai Podar coach Ramesh Shejwal said MSSA have erred but are putting the blame on coaches. "Of the final 18 players list that we submitted to MSSA, only one player (Karan Khandelwal) had an MCA card made on February 2. When the MSSA official came to check in the morning, they did not see the cards, but only asked if our players had them.

Then, in the afternoon, when the match was over, MSSA debarred our team claiming one of the players' card was made on February 2. Had they told this to us in the morning, we would've replaced the player for this match. Rather than accepting their fault, MSSA is putting the blame on us and consequently the whole team is suffering," said Shejwal.

MSSA Hon General Secretary Sebastian Fernandes admitted it was an error on their part. "Yes, technically, the teams are right. There was no mention of the MCA card's cut off date in our circular. And neither did we check the cards while accepting the entry of the teams. We will ensure cut off dates are mentioned from next season. However, these teams will be debarred for now."