Hyderabad: The once busy Gymkhana ground in Secunderabad wears a deserted look, particularly in the morning hours. All the coaching activities of the Hyderabad Cricket Academy of Excellence (HCAE) had ceased to function four years ago at this city’s iconic ground. Even as other State associations have a proper and modern coaching system in place, the Hyderabad Cricket Association (HCA) has put the academy, an important cog in the development of the game, on the backburner. One thought with Mohammed Azharuddin becoming the president of the association, the former Indian captain would give top priority to the revival of the academy. Sadly, that has not been the case. There is neither any academy or any coaching activities at the ground.
It is nearly three years and there seems to be no urgency for this present body to revive the academy. The Covid-19 pandemic has become a ready-made excuse for any immediate opening of the academy. Strangely even without the academy, there was some coaching or the other at Gymkhana in the past. It is always considered the nursery of Hyderabad cricket.
Former Bombay and Hyderabad Ranji opener Vijay Mohan Raj, a regular figure at the ground along with other cricketers like Jyothi Prasad, Prasan Kumar, RA Swaroop, Noel David, felt the excitement is missing at Gymkhana. “There was a buzz of activity at this ground. It was always a nice feeling when young cricketers come in hordes to learn the nuances of the game. There was eagerness and excitement among the boys. The Academy did help the boys in their preparation for the new season. I wonder why the association continues to ignore the academy,’’ said Mohan Raj.
The ground, in fact, got a facelift when former Hyderabad off spinner Kanwaljit Singh was the director of the academy. He made use of the wasted adjacent ground and increased the number of practice wickets. At the same time he ensured a good drainage system. Apart from that he ensured a strict discipline at the ground, making it mandatory for all the cricketers to be in proper white attire while at the practice session.
“The Academy is always important to any association. It churns out new players and when we have an academy it is an ideal place for preparation for the new season for all age groups. We were part of a system where we enjoyed coaching the young boys,’’ he said.
Former Indian Test all-rounder MV Narasimha Rao, who was the last director, added that the academy is part and parcel of any association. “When I was the director, I ensured that there was a proper training system where we could monitor all the players. One of the reasons for Hyderabad’s Ranji Trophy success in 2016-17 season when we reached the quarterfinals was the pre-season camp wherein we took the assessment of all the players. The players and teams stand to benefit if there is any academy. I still feel strange that they are yet to revive it,’’ he said from Ireland.
In the absence of the academy, Hyderabad’s abysmal results are evident in their poor run in the last three years. Their performances have sunk to a new low. It is high time that HCA wakes up to the reality and resumes all activities at the HCAE.