Chandigarh gains slot to compete in domestic cricket... 47 years after seeking BCCI recognition

For veteran cricket official Sushil Kapoor, the news meant "respect" for the fans of the sport and promoters in and around Chandigarh.

Yuvraj Singh was among several Chandigarh-based cricketers who played for the national side.   -  S. Subramanium

Forty-seven years after seeking recognition from the Board, Chandigarh finally gained a slot to compete in domestic cricket. The recognition granted to Union Territory Cricket Association (UTCA) was welcomed by the city’s cricket fraternity with an eye on the future.

For veteran cricket official Sushil Kapoor, the news meant “respect” for the game’s fans and promoters in and around Chandigarh. “I had attended the Board’s AGM at Calcutta in 1972 and sought permission for players from Chandigarh to play for Haryana since the city was not getting any recognition. Even though there were objections from Punjab the BCCI allowed Chandigarh-based players to represent the newly-found Haryana team,” said Kapoor, who is currently the official spokesperson for Punjab Cricket Association.

Kapoor was in the forefront in keeping the demand for Chandigarh’s separate entity in domestic cricket but the efforts were stalled. In 1982, the UTCA became a registered body but support from the Board eluded the cricket lovers. “The city had a good infrastructure (stadium at Sector 16) and we had some talented players who were forced to either play for Haryana or Punjab. I am glad the local talent will serve Chandigarh now,” Kapoor added.

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Among the players from Chandigarh who played for India were Kapil Dev, Yograj Singh,Yuvraj Singh, Ashok Malhotra, Chetan Sharma, VRV Singh, Dinesh Mongia and Siddharth Kaul. “I am happy for the young cricketers of Chandigarh,” remarked Kapil.

For Vivek Atray, a cricket-loving bureaucrat and senior vice-president of the UTCA, it was a reward for hard work put in by many. “A very welcome development for cricket in this region,” noted Atray, who has been organising the JP Atray cricket tournament for the last 25 years.

“Chandigarh should have got affiliation long ago. It is a matter of satisfaction that UTCA had finally received affiliation with BCCI and the boys and girls of Chandigarh will be able to play national-level tournaments in all age groups,” said a delighted Atray. “With the merger of CCA Punjab into UTCA things became much easier and the process of affiliation was finalised by BCCI. Henceforth many more (local) cricketers will get the chance to play at higher levels and perhaps the highest level.”