Photo courtesy: Jai Shah
Photo courtesy: Jai Shah

Balvinder Singh Sandhu, the former India cricketer and the 1983 World Cup winner, will be organising a cricket talent hunt in Mumbai on October 17 and 18, 2014. The youngsters picked in his trial will be coached at his academy free of cost. Nishad Pai Vaidya caught up with Sandhu and spoke to him about the initiative.

In a cricket-crazy country like India, there is no dearth of young talent — kids who show copious potential at a young age and have the ability to enhance their skills. However, their parents’ economic situation and the lack of resources often becomes a hurdle in pursuit of their dream. Some break the barriers and manage to make it big. For a few others, the hurdles are monumental and almost impossible to overcome. That talent is never recognised and falls by the wayside in the alleys of any city.

Balvinder Singh Sandhu, the 1983 World Cup winner, is now a renowned coach who has worked with many domestic teams in the country. Along with Ajmera, he is involved in a Cricket Talent Hunt which is organised by his academy called The Sports Gurukul. On October 17 and 18, 2014, there would be a free trial for children in the age groups under-10, under-12, under-14 and under-16. These kids can just walk in and register themselves and have a shot at taking their dreams forward.

“I will be at Milan subway on Friday (October 17) and at Wadala (October 18) — one day at each venue. The selected will be coached at my academy free of cost,” says Sandhu. The trials will be held in two time slots. The first one will begin at 8 Am and will go on till 10:30 AM. The second slot will commence at 2 PM and end at 4:30 PM.

“Talented players should not be ignored and they should get the opportunity. There are many talented players who cannot afford to pay. I as a coach realise that we need to take care of the development of such talented players. If we can help them achieve their goal, then we can say that we contributed to their development,” says Sandhu.

Sandhu will be monitoring the whole program and the players’ progress.  He has about seven coaches working under him at the two grounds and will split his time. The main academy is at Wadala.

Having said that, even the equipment is expensive and some kids may not be able to afford it. Sandhu has a solution for that as well and through his circle, he would arrange for it. Rajiv Sutar is helping him out in this regard. And so is Vivek Mahajan, who is a former Punjab Ranji Trophy players. “Vivek Mahajan is from Jullunder. He played for Punjab and I had coached them. I had a camp in 1998 and he was a batsman there. He came and saw the camp said that he will help in whatever way he can,” says Sandhu.

At the same time, Sandhu realises the importance of education. If a kid is managing good grades at school, Sandhu encourages them to strike a balance between the two and ensure that they don’t lose out on their studies. Sandhu then narrates a story about a boy who was picked two years ago.

“There is a boy Rishikesh. His father works in Godrej. This boy has nice action and is tall. He needs time to strengthen his body and work on his fitness. During the off-season as well, I monitor his progress. I spoke to my RCF (Rashtriya Chemicals and Fertilizers) colleagues and he trains under them and other fitness trainers at Chembur. He will be representing Ruparel College. Last year, I asked him to focus on studies during his 10th. I don’t want a good student to lose out on studies. He needs to work on his cricket, but at the same time, not ignore his studies,” says Sandhu.

With all his experience in cricket, Sandhu can give these boys crucial tips and advice that would help them succeed. Sandhu has been a part of this initiative for three years and we may see the fruits of his efforts a few years down the line.

Those interested to participate, call: 9004200200/8082386677

(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Correspondent with CricketCountry and anchor for the site’s YouTube Channel. His Twitter handle is @nishad_45)