By Sudatta Mukherjee
It’s unfortunate that cricket is not considered for Olympics, opined Ajit Wadekar. “We cricketers, like any other sportspersons, work hard to succeed at the international level. However, they don't have a chance of getting a medal on the biggest sporting stage,” the former India captain and coach said at the relaunch of Sportstar magazine at the Cricket Club of India (CCI), in Mumbai, on Wednesday.
Wadekar said that one of the reasons that cricket is not considered for Olympics may be its format is long. “It may be because it is a five-day game or something. May be a shorter version will be considered. We are coming closer to that. Now we play Twenty20. Next time may be we will play 10-10. Then they might give cricket entry to Olympics.”
Wadekar, however, appealed that importance be give to all sports. “Cricket is a national game, but we should also give importance to other games as well. It is the Olympic medal – be gold, silver or bronze – that brings awareness about the game to the youngsters. It is unfortunate that only cricket is big in India.”
The history-making captain of the 1971 Indian teams to the West Indies and England also wondered why other sportspersons in the country do not get facilities like cricketers do. “Cricketers are getting all the facilities. They have a coach for batting, coach for bowling, coach for fielding. They have coach for everything. But poor Sushil Kumar, who is going to carry the Indian flag at the Olympics, doesn’t have coach.”
Apart from Wadekar, other former cricketers who were present at CCI on Wednesday were Lalchand Rajput and Abey Kuruvilla. Other famous sports personalities who were also present on the occasion were Eddie Sequeira, former distance runner, 1972 Munich Olympics, Aparna Popat, badminton player, 2000 Sydney and 2004 Athens Olympics, India’s first Grandmaster Pravin Thipsay, 1956 Melbourne and 1960 Rome Olympian footballer SS Narayan, M Somaya, hockey player from 1980-Moscow Olympics gold-winning team and ex-India Olympics captain, Viren Rasquinha, hockey player from Athens 2004 Olympics, World Cup hockey player Joaquim Carvalho, former international goalkeeper, Mir Ranjan Negi, Eliza Nelson, captain of the 1982 Asian Games Gold and 1980 Moscow Olympics, Farokh Tarapore, sailor from 1984 Los Angeles, 1988 Seoul and Barcelona Olympics, Kamlesh Mehta, table tennis player from 1988 Seoul and 1992 Barcelona Olympics, and his wife Monalisa Mehta, a former national champion.
Former Olympian Eddie Sequeira remembered the 1972 Munich massacre, where Israeli athletes were attacked by the members of Black September, a Palestine militant group.