Assn, players hope for an early return to normalcy
Chandigarh: A delay in player selection trials of the Union Territory Cricket Association, Chandigarh, for the 2021-22 season due to the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic is causing problems for cricketers and the administration.
“Due to the situation our country faces, cricket has taken a back seat. We cannot hold trials during a pandemic,” Manjit Singh, head of operations, UTCA, informed The Observer.
Owing to the uncertainty, the association has not been able to finalize a time for the selection trials. “We always have a clear time period marked for everything, but now we will have to be flexible and hope the pandemic subsides soon,” Singh added.
Players registered with the association have been affected as well.
Amrit Lubana, who scored two double centuries in the C.K. Nayudu Trophy 2019-20, said: “It is obviously better to get physical practice, without which we have a chance of getting out of touch; but, stuck at home, we somehow manage to keep ourselves in shape. I do fitness drills on my rooftop and watch old videos to analyse my performance.”
Arslan Khan, a player who represents UTCA’s U-23 team, said: “All players have to go through trials. We are unsure when they take will place and when we will return to practice. The players faced a similar situation last year as well. In such a case, our mentality and a positive mindset become important.”
UTCA, which usually starts physical trials in the month of June, has extended the deadline for registrations.
UTCA president Sanjay Tandon informed The Observer: “The last date for applying on our website has been set as June 15. After that, we will have to wait for approval from BCCI. Only then can we hold trials. Till then, we want to be done with all the paperwork and documentation.”
Tandon added that the association had to forfeit selection trials in 2020 due to the pandemic. “The last set of trials were held in September 2019. Now, just when we were planning for the next season, we have had to stop again,” he added.
Following the rise in Covid-19 cases in the Union territory, the Disaster Management Authority of Chandigarh released guidelines which restricted sports activities and complexes from opening.
“All sports activities and stadiums in Chandigarh were ordered to be closed from April 19. This will continue until at least May 18. We do not see the cricket complex, or any other sports facility, functioning in the near future,” said authority chairman Manoj Kumar Parida.
The closure of the UTCA stadium due to the second wave of Covid-19 has also impacted its coaching and tournament schedules.
“We have had to stop training as per the BCCI guidelines. The players that we have with us are getting online coaching with respect to fitness drills and dietary plans only. With no physical coaching, their game is bound to get affected,” said Sukhwinder Singh Bawa, cricket coach, UTCA.
UTCA had acquired BCCI affiliation in 2019, following which it was eligible to organize BCCI-certified tournaments and leagues.
“The BCCI had cleared our domestic tournament format. We had divided the city of Chandigarh into six parts, and had a team for each one. We had planned on having men’s and women’s tournaments at the U-19, U-21 and senior levels. These were set to start by April, but the second wave has ruined all our plans,” the UTCA president said.
In 2020, apart from the trials being cancelled, Chandigarh’s U-19 and U-21 men’s teams had to return from tournaments that had to be shelved due the outbreak of Covid-19.
Now, the players and administration of UTCA hope for the second wave to subside soon, so that they can continue their cricketing activities and not face a situation similar to that in 2020.