Still waiting to meet Dhoni

K. RAMESH BABU

Far away from Ranchi, also the hometown of Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, the Jharkhand women’s team slogged it out in the all-India inter-State women’s cricket championship in Hyderabad.

But with the exception of the coach Seema Desai (in Pic.) none in the squad has ever met the Indian captain. Dhoni’s international commitments, too, have taken him away for long periods from Ranchi.

“Well, honestly, despite all his stardom Dhoni is still a very shy character and a very humble cricketer, especially when he talks to womenfolk,” says Seema, who played for India in the 1980s and who has been presented two cricket bats by Dhoni.

Does this team expect any sort of help from the Indian captain? “Not really. But it will be a huge morale-booster if he visits our training camp back home, at least once,” says captain Seema Singh, playing her fourth Nationals. “He is a great inspiration for everyone back home. The attitude of everyone has changed completely in Jharkhand. Now everyone has a feeling — why can’t I become an India player?” she says.

Interestingly, only seven girls of this Jharkhand team have a job, and all in the Railways. The rest are struggling to make ends meet. With the Jharkhand Cricket Association also taking care of women’s cricket, these girls are hoping for better things.

No doubt, this Jharkhand team is pleased with the “wonderful gesture” of Dhoni and his team to present Rs. 1 crore to the Indian hockey squad. But they too deserve a better deal — both on and off the field. And, they are all longing to meet their ‘idol’ in person for a change in fortunes!

“We are eagerly waiting for the completion of the cricket stadium in Ranchi this year so that we can have better training facilities,” says the Jharkhand coach. “Right now, we have only 14 districts playing any sort of competitive women’s cricket with Ranchi itself having only two, Dhanbad two and Jamshedpur three turf wickets. All we hope for are more tournaments for these girls,” she added.

There is no specific budget for this women’s cricket team and its needs are taken care of by the JCA. Considering that an Indian women’s cricket player is paid Rs. 1 lakh as match fees per series only of late, the plight of the lesser mortals can well be understood.