India vs West Indies 2nd Test at Mumbai: Rahul Mankad, Karsan Ghavri hurt by MCA's shabby treatment

There was the controversy surrounding the allotment of match tickets, which became even more glaring after looking at the vacant seats at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai © IANS

By Shrikant Shankar

On the momentous occasion of Sachin Tendulkar’s 200th and final Test, everything else has seemingly receded into the background. The match itself between India and West Indies has been a sideshow. The celebrities — cricketers and non-cricketers alike — were not the centre of attention. Arrangements have been made for Tendulkar’s kin, friends, former teammates and many more by the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA), so, that everyone can bask in one of the most important moments in cricketing history.

But amongst the delirium that everyone has been lost in, there were heartburns as well. First, there was the controversy surrounding the allotment of match tickets, which became even more glaring after looking at the vacant seats. People do leave the ground once Tendulkar gets out, but that has always happened. But even when he was batting, sublimely one might add, the ground was not totally full as one would have expected.

What showed the MCA in even poorer light was the fact that many former cricketers have had issues even getting onto the ground. On Day One of the Test, former Mumbai batsman Rahul Mankad had a harrowing time just entering the ground — from the gate which is named after his legendary father, Vinoo Mankad. An upset Rahul said, “When I reached the ground, the personnel present told me to collect the passes from a particular point. Once I went there, I was told to go somewhere else, and this kept happening may times. I was made to run from pillar to post.”

All Mumbai cricketers, past and present, have their names in the guest list for the match. But Rahul’s name was missing. “For someone who was played over 55 matches (First-Class and List A combined) for Mumbai, the MCA should have accorded greater respect. “I played for over 10 years for Mumbai and there were players who have played one or two matches in the stands. They [MCA representatives] they said someone has already collected the tickets in my name. Luckily, I met Shishir Hattangadi (the former Mumbai captain) and I could get in.”

Rahul was also not happy to see that the players were not seated together. “All of the former players present at the Wankhede were not seated in one area. They were all spread out. Some were there in the upper tiers and some were at other stands.”

Rahul was not the only one who suffered.  Former India and Mumbai cricketer Karsan Ghavri was left fuming due to the seating arrangements. He said that he will never enter Wankhede Stadium again.

While agreeing completely with Ghavri’s sentiments, Rahul however said he will not take such a drastic step. “Karsan is entitled to his opinion and I understand his situation. It was completely humiliating. But I am not going to make any sweeping statements, though, I will write a letter to Mr Sharad Pawar and (MCA managing committee member) Abey Kuruvilla about this. I have faith in Mr Pawar to resolve the matter.

“I mean MCA needs to understand that it was the players who won them so many Ranji Trophy titles, it was the players who won them so many accolades and now they are forgetting them and treating them so badly. There is no question of ego, but at least give us what we are entitled to. I can agree to genuine mistakes, but that’s not the case here. If 92-year-old Madhav Mantri and near 80-year-old Nari Contractor have to sign in for their tickets, then it shows the situation. No one has taken any responsibility.

“I was recently at Lord’s in London and interacting with the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) officials. What I saw was the protocol and the respect for others. There is so much the MCA can learn from them,” said Rahul.

Tendulkars no exception!

There was another regrettable moment on Day Two when Tendulkar’s wife, Anjali and their two children, Sara and Arjun were asked by a security guard at the President’s Box for their tickets. Although an MCA official was there nearby to help out the Tendulkar family, it just adds more negativity to the entire arrangement process.
Rahul added, “MCA joint-secretary Nitin Dalal then told me that I should have come to him and he would have sorted out everything. This is not how it should work. The whole thing was a forgettable experience.”

(Shrikant Shankar is a writer/reporter at CricketCountry.com. Previously he has done audio commentary for various matches involving India, Indian Premier League and Champions League Twenty20 for ESPNSTAR.com. You can follow him on Twitter @Shrikant_23)