Fifty-nine-year-old Rony Iranpur's passion for club cricket sees him travelling from Los Angeles to Mumbai every year just to be a part of the maidan culture. But his current trip to back home hasn't been a pleasant one, and that's due to the poor state of the city's maidans. 

Players tend to Saraswati Mandir's Shubham Chowkekar who was hit on
the head by a ball from a nearby match yesterday. Pic/Aatul Kamble

"It's been almost a month since I landed in India. Of the three consecutive Sundays that I played for Parsee Cyclists Club in the Cosmopolitan Shield Cricket Tournament, it didn't feel like I was playing a match, but as though I was in a zoo surrounded by thousands of cricketers from different matches being played simultaneously nearby. We wasted more time trying to keep these  players at bay, than actually playing cricket," the Cusrow Baug resident told MiD DAY.

Club cricketer Rony Iranpur at Azad Maidan. pic/Suresh KK

What irked Iranpur more is the fact that the ground conditions pose a serious safety concern for the players.
"With so many people playing together, twisted ankles and injuries to players while fielding or batting from balls flying off nearby matches is bound to happen. This can pose a serious threat to not just an upcoming player but even to an established cricketer," added Iranpur.

The Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) must step in to sort things out, felt Iranpur. "I recall times when the likes of Sunil Gavaskar and Dilip Vengsarkar would turn up for club matches, and that used to be an inspiration for youngsters. But nowadays I don't blame the current crop of cricketers like Zaheer Khan or Rohit Sharma not turning up for their club games because the conditions here are so pathetic that it can ruin their careers. Only, if MCA make ground conditions better, will senior players think of returning to the maidans," said Iranpur.