As former Indian cricketer and the newly appointed chairman of selectors Chetan Sharma met the probables of UTCA at the Sector 16 Stadium along with UTCA president Sanjay Tandon, the 54-year-old former Indian cricketer had only one advice for the probables. While UTCA had got the affiliation from BCCI last year and UTCA team also played in the plate group in Ranji Trophy, Sharma termed the development a huge thing for Chandigarh cricket and spent some time with the UTCA cricketers.
“Chandigarh getting BCCI affiliation is a very good opportunity for cricketers. It’s nice that cricketers will get a chance to represent Chandigarh and they will play from their own city. I told them that they should perform well and serve the country too. That has been BCCI’s idea. We have seen Kapil Dev becoming first cricketer from Chandigarh to play for India and then the likes of Yuvraj Singh in recent times. They should keep this in mind and our task is to see the hard work. Whoever performs will come into the team and will definitely be selected,” said Sharma, who is also a life member of UTCA.
Sharma was appointed as national selector along with Abhey Kuruvilla and Debasis Mohanty by the Cricket Advisory Committee of BCCI last week. Sharma has replaced Sunil Joshi as chairman of the selection panel having played more Test matches than Joshi. Sharma, who had joined as a trainee at Sector 16 Stadium under coach Desh Prem Azad in the late 1970s, went on to make his ODI debut for India against West Indies in 1983 and Test debut against Pakistan in 1984. Sharma along with former Indian captain Kapil Dev, Yograj Singh and Ashok Malhotra were the four Test players among Azad’s trainees.
Sharma remembered the legendary coach. “I came to train under D P Azad sir. He had seen me bowling at DAVSSS-8 and called me for trials. I was nine years old at that time and next year I captained Kapil Dev XI in a U-12 tournament. My team won the tournament and after the final, Azad sir made me meet Kapil paji. Kapil paji had just come from the Pakistan tour and Azad sir would call him in every tournament to give prizes to the players. When my turn came, the prizes got finished and Kapil paji patted my back. That encouragement by Azad sir and Kapil paji made me achieve all the things in my career. I also remain indebted to then DAVSSS (Lahore) principal B Ghakkhar,” Sharma said.
In his international career, Sharma played in 23 Test matches and 65 ODI matches and was the first Indian cricketer to claim a hat-trick, a feat which he achieved against New Zealand in the 1987 World Cup. Sharma, who remained the first choice bowler to share the new ball along with Kapil Dev, had suffered a thumb injury days prior to the 1987 World Cup and recalled Kapil Dev’s faith in him, which led to his inclusion in the Indian team for the world cup. “I was lucky to have a coach like DP Azad and mentor like Kapil paji in my career. I remember Azad sir telling all that I would play for India in next two-three years when I was 15. And I made my debut for India at the age of 17. While training at Sector 16 stadium, I could never imagine sharing the new ball with Kapil paji one day but that also happened. Prior to the 1987 World Cup, I suffered an injury to my left thumb during a charity match against Pakistan XI and when the selectors asked him about my replacement, he told them that he wanted me in the team. That was his confidence in me. I remember Kapil paji, Navjot Sidhu and Maninder Singh cutting the plaster on my thumb with a room knife and then Dr Ali Irani making sure that my thumb healed and I was ready to play in the world cup. The hat-trick against New Zealand was a memorable moment in my career. We were a good team but one bad day ended our hopes in that world cup,” Sharma said.
Just when the conversation ws about to end, Sharma hastened to add, “Discipline. That was what DP Azad sir taught us. I remember he would ask us to bowl in a box made of chalk on the pitch and every trainee had to hit the mark 21 times before he could go home. I remember bowling for hours to achieve that and that’s what made Kapil Dev, Chetan Sharma and many others,” Sharma said.
Another cricketer tests positive
Meanwhile, another UTCA cricketer Karanveer Singh tested positive for Covid-19 on Monday. Last week, two UTCA cricketers Shreshth Nirmohi and Raman Bishnoi had tested positive for Covid-19 prior to the start of the camp for Syed Mushtaq Ali T-20 Trophy. While Nirmohi has been ruled out, Bishnoi’s test report has come negative and a decision regarding his inclusion will be taken on Wednesday. “Karanveer Singh has tested positive for Covid-19 today. Shresth Nirmohi still had fever and it ruled out any possibility of him joining the team for Syed Mushtaq Ali T-20 Trophy. Raman Bishnoi has tested negative and we will take a decision about his inclusion on Wednesday,” said Sanjay Tandon, UTCA president.
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