administrators, Asian Cricket Council, bahrain, Bahrain Cricket Association, Corruption, cricket, desert, facilities, game, Goys, International, International Cricket Council, Middle East, pitch, politics, promise, sport, talent, youngsters
I thought of writing about the state of cricket in Bahrain after seeing how the sport has been on the decline in the last few years.
Though I am a keen follower of the game since early childhood, my interest in the game on this lovely Island kindled after my son took to the game.
Starting from “gully” cricket played at our residential compound, he is now well-known in cricketing circles, having also represented Bahrain at the international level and taken part in many overseas tours.
That the state of affairs is not the best by any standards is well-known but what is sad is that youngsters’ talent here is being ground to dust.
There is a lot of promise – a promise that was amply demonstrated a few years ago when a team of young greenhorns won an international overseas tournament.
The seniors were also doing well and made a mark for themselves at other tournaments and were slowly but steadily graduating to higher levels.
In the last couple of years, however, the descent has been sudden and appalling. While the seniors have fallen drastically in rankings, several junior teams have also had some overseas outings without any significant achievements.
Coaches are replaced, managements have changed, several bodies representing cricket interests in the country have merged and tall promises have bitten gone with the proverbial wind.
The result is that Bahrain is perhaps the only country in the world that fields a team at the regional, Asian and international levels and still does not have a proper playing turf, a ground fit for cricket and no proper selection procedure, training and talent-spotting.
This is sad because there are hundreds of extremely talented youngsters who are wasted and have to play in extremely tough conditions with nothing in the name of facilities.
The accompanying pictures are self-explanatory. They play in the hot sun in extreme temperatures, just because they love the game. They have to depend on their parents, brothers and neighbors to drive them there. They have to fend for themselves in every way and yet, they hope to gain some recognition of some kind at the so-called “official” level.
Officials have made claims, senior players have said all is well and media articles praising administrators have appeared but nothing is seen on the ground.
A makeshift tin shed for players to “rest” and keep their kits, an almost leafless tree in the middle of the desert as the “pavilion”, the boot of a car the refrigerator, packets of food from the cheapest restaurant in town as “lunch” and sandy, rocky and dusty open ground with a concrete “pitch” as the playing area. And, yes, there is also an open air toilet and urinal!
I wonder what “observers” from the Asian Cricket Council report back to their bosses when they come to take a look at the facilities? Wonder also what happens to the “wealth” of funds that Bahrain gets from the international body? And wonder why during every international tour, the “senior” team consists only of “elders”?
I don’t have the answers. Perhaps someone does. They should now give those answers.