Umpire Sanjay reminisces growing up in Vijay Hazare household

Sanjay Hazare officiated in his first Vijay Hazare Trophy match in 2006. However after getting into the ICC panel, Sanjay never found enough time to officiate in the tournament, barring some sparse appointments.

Sanjay Hazare is in the second tier of umpiring in India and is focused on mentoring the junior umpires.   -  Hari Kishore M

Carrying the legacy of an accomplished sportsman would be one of the toughest jobs for anyone given the pressure to perform it can generate. But for Sanjay Hazare, the nephew of Vijay Hazare, after who the country’s premier domestic one-day tournament is named after, it is a proud and a long lasting moment.

“It is after all, a family affair,” he laughed.

Sanjay officiated in his first Vijay Hazare Trophy match in 2006. However after getting into the ICC panel, Sanjay never found enough time to officiate in the tournament, barring some sparse appointments.

“I got to officiate in the Vijay Hazare matches after three or four years. I just officiated in one Ranji Trophy match this season and it is good to be back to this tournament,” Sanjay said, after the conclusion of the Madhya Pradesh-Rajasthan game at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium here.

Sanjay reminisced the primitive years he spent around Vijay Hazare. “We were brought up in his (Vijay Hazare’s) house in Baroda. He always used to be there for us and guide us. His house was opposite the ground where I used to play for my school. He used to watch me bat, bowl and field from his house. After the match he used to call me over and suggest course correction methods and explain how I can improve my overall game. He used to be a guiding force for all of us,” he said.

"We were brought up in his (Vijay Hazare’s) house. He always used to be there for us and guide us. His house was opposite the ground where I used to play for my school. He used to watch me bat, bowl and field from his house. After the match he used to call me over and suggest course correction methods and explain how I can improve my overall game. "

 

Unfortunately, Sanjay is the last in the Hazare family to take the legacy forward. “The third generation of the Hazare family is off cricket. I am the only one actively involved in the sport now. We have our family members in various business fields like travel and tourism, business administration, medicine, etc.,” he said.

But is he worried that his family's association with the sport would be lost soon after he retires? “Not at all, we have the next generation who we can groom. I have a coaching institute back home and I have a hope that someone from our family will still be involved in cricket after I retire. The onus will now on the next generation,” he quipped.

Sanjay, who was in the news for infamously being asked to step down from officiating after a fiasco in the Indian Premier League, is in the second tier of umpiring in India and is focused on mentoring the junior umpires. “We have four international umpires in the ICC panel – Shamshuddin, Anil Chaudhary, Nandan and Nitin Menon. We, the ex-ICC panel are in the next tier. We help other umpires with respect to their movements, ensuring they don’t lose sight of the ball when officiating. As far as decision-making, all the umpires in the BCCI panel are on the same page,” he explained.

With the advent of technology, Sanjay feels the job of an umpire has become more difficult. “Every decision of ours can be instantly challenged. We are scrutinised most of the time. We have to up our concentration levels and focus more. The technology in umpiring has not made it easy,” he added.

Sanjay is thankful for the Indian cricket board to have recognised and honoured his uncle by naming the tournament after him. “I feel the BCCI has done enough to honour him. Not all Test players have tournaments named after them. It is a big honour,” he concluded.