Posted On Tuesday, February 12, 2013 at 09:09:24 AM
Mumbai: This is a story that goes well beyond the glamour, glitz and razzmatazz of Indian cricket. The millions of dollars that fill the coffers of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) have not exactly enriched the lives of every cricketer.
The board, sure, has made a grand gesture for former India players shelling out over Rs100crores, but Indian cricket is not only about those who have played for India. Who thinks about those who never made it to the team? Inder Raju of Hyderabad made his living as an umpire.
|Raju’s hospital bills have run up to about Rs1 lakh following
his leg amputation
Standing for hours in the middle of the pitch, he would earn a few hundred rupees from the Hyderabad Cricket Association (HCA) that would take care of his daily needs. The earnings were never enough, but Raju, a former Andhra Ranji player, made ends meet and pulled on.
Fate had worse things in store for him. He was discovered with a malignant gangrene in his left leg and doctors were forced to amputate his leg at the knee yesterday. The amputation was carried out at a corporate hospital, which has left his umpiring career in tatters.
He is yet to know what lies in store once he is discharged. While he faces an uncertain future, he is yet to come to terms with the present. Raju’s hospital bills have run up to over Rs1 lakh and he has no clue about how and when he will be discharged.
Appeals to the HCA and Andhra Cricket Association (ACA) have elicited a positive response, but funds will take time. MSK Prasad, a former India stumper, who is the CEO of the ACA, agreed to consider his request for help. Raju said he would be grateful if the BCCI came forward to help.
“They give pension to many cricketers and have granted one-time gratis as well. I urge the board to consider my case,” Raju told Mirror from his hospital bed.
A former India school cricketer, Raju had opened with Sunil Gavaskar in a couple of school games for India. “That was in the 1960s,” recalls the 64-year-old. “It was the first-ever Indian school team and Sunny was my partner in the match at the Brabourne.”
With the Hyderabad team boasting of the likes of ML Jaisimha, MAK Pataudi and Abbas Ali Baig in its ranks, Raju never managed to play for Hyderabad, but did well for the VST team in the Moin-ud-Dowla tournament.
Apart from being a hard-hitting opener, he was a useful leg-spinner as well. Along with the Amranath brothers – Mohinder and Surinder – Syed Kirmani and Karsan Ghavri, Raju, whose brother Govind Raju had represented India in the 1970s, had gone to England to play for the Indian schools team.
Gavaskar was not young enough to fit into that squad. Raju’s is a story that reflects the two types of Indian cricketers – the haves and have-nots.
“While the present day cricketers are making oodles of money through endorsements and IPL deals, this cricketer of an era gone by is suffering and waiting for a noble soul to help,” said a family member, hoping the BCCI will come to his rescue. Will it?