Deodhar Trophy, 2008-09 March 13, 2009

Next up, Deodhar duty

Dear readers,
20

Dear readers,

Walking out to defend a modest total against Bengal in the quarter-final of the Vijay Hazare Trophy, I told my players that we needed to give it all we had, to ensure that we get another opportunity to walk on to the cricket field as a team. A loss in that match would’ve meant the end of the road for Delhi. We had an early start to the season because we had to play a couple of extra pre-season games as a reward for winning the Ranji Trophy last season. So our sojourn together was quite a long one, where we saw more lows than highs, especially when compared to the previous season.

When you know that it’s all going to end, albeit only for a few more months when the drama would begin once again, you want to hold onto it for as long as possible. It might sound a little clichéd and inspired from the movie Chak De, but our last 47 overs on the field (the match was reduced to 47 overs a side) reminded me of that ‘Yeh 70 minute’ speech that Shah Rukh Khan gives his players before the finals.

Of course, the cricket was not going to stop with this game and most of us were going to represent the North Zone and play in the IPL, but it’s never the same. It's the fact that we were not playing for Delhi that would be missed most. Sadly, we faltered and the sand that we were desperate to hold within our fists slipped away right in front of our eyes, and we felt helpless.

Anyhow, life moves on, and we’re in Cuttack for the Deodhar Trophy. I’ve been to Cuttack a few times in my cricketing career but the last time we came to play a Ranji Trophy game was a decade ago. We’re staying in the same hotel in which we stayed back then. It’s called Dwaraka and is right beside to a cinema hall. There are two big open drains in the vicinity as well.

Nothing has changed in the last decade including the state of the rooms. The placement of the television set is so peculiar that it’s nearly impossible to watch it if both of us, my roommate and I, are lying in our respective beds. The bed sheets are invariably dirty and a look at the bed cover might make you feel like throwing up. It was badly stained with oil marks and looked as if it hasn’t seen the laundry for quite some time. Unfortunately the plight doesn’t end here. There was a cockroach found in the food ordered by one of my teammates.

What bothers me more is that Cuttack is not an off-beat venue and has been hosting international matches for quite some time. Of course, the international teams don’t stay in these hotels and I’m not even suggesting that they make us stay in five-star hotels (though why not), but I do believe that there could at least be an effort made to improve the state of the hotels. After all this is the premier domestic tournament.

Do I need to mention that the bus that brought us from the airport in Bhubaneswar, which is about 30 km away (an hour's drive), was not an air-conditioned one? It’s pretty hot in this part of the country and an air-conditioned bus is a necessity rather than a luxury. This is a domestic tournament and so is the IPL but there’s a huge difference in the treatment meted out to the players in these two tournaments. No wonder all the players are eagerly awaiting the IPL.

Cheers

Former India opener Aakash Chopra is the author of Out of the Blue, an account of Rajasthan's 2010-11 Ranji Trophy victory. His website is here and his Twitter feed here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Anish on March 16, 2009, 9:13 GMT

    Look at the bright side, Aakash. Atleast you do not have to sleep in the stadium dorms as our national athletes, hockey and football players do.

  • Sidhanta Patnaik on March 15, 2009, 13:40 GMT

    I am from Cuttack/Bhubaneswar. To an extent Akash is right. The standard in these hotels remain to be the same. I keep hearing from Pravanjan Mullick about the plight of hotels in other cities as well. So across the country the scene is pretty much the same. I so agree with someone's suggestion in this blog, advising BCCI to set up an exclusive T&H department for domestic matches. State associations are still ages away from being professional.

  • mukesh kunal on March 14, 2009, 22:23 GMT

    Hello Akash, Well akash i also belong to this part of the country and i very well know the weather condition.But i was pleased to know that film dialogs do inspire u . And inspite of your busy schedule u take time out and watch movies.Coming to cricket well it will be a tough contest between North zone and East zone because with the likes of u and shikhar dhawan and others can give nightmares to the opposition.But frankly speaking north will miss sehwag and gambhir because of national duties.Never the less it looks a strong team in paper.But cricket is an unpredictable game and whoever plays well on that particular days is finally adjudged the winner.East looks a bit weaker because apart from Manoj Tiwary there's no one who can win match for their zone single handedly.Moreover they are weak in the bowling department too with not much options for manoj who will lead east zone in the absence of Shukla.

  • Vijay on March 14, 2009, 19:06 GMT

    Hi Akash,

    Your articles since off late have been moving increasingly to the negative side of life and cricket. I think your plight is much more tolerable and manageable than many of the underprevileged people living in our country. May be you should start looking at the positive side of life, may be it is time for you to think it is because of cricket that you are able to travel to all these places (of course stay in these dungeons as you intent to stay). You can't expect the facilities that is provided to international cricketers to all the cricketer's playing the domestic competetion because IC brings money to the board and DC does not. It is the same everywhere. You go to a Corporate, you see the top officers are always paid better. It is just a way of life. I think it would be really good for you if start whinning and start concentrating on how to get back to the Indian team again so that you could enjoy the 5-star facilities. Cheers mate.

  • vishwanath on March 14, 2009, 16:33 GMT

    Hi Aakash, I am a regular reader of your blogs and quite enjoy your simple prose. Great job. One thing that crosses my mind: isn't the disparity between domestic and international cricket what drives cricketers to strive for more, ie work harder, strive further to make it as an international. i am not for a moment suggesting that cricketers deserve to stay in third rate hotels like the one in cuttack. but if they are provided first class facilities, would they not then lose the drive to move further up? maybe not everyone. but just a few who'll say ah ok, this is good enough, why should i stretch myself that extra bit. already i believe that IPL is going to have the exact same effect. when you look at the fact that domestic players are already making huge amounts, would they just have that desire and drive to go the extra yard and have the yearning for international cricket? if 45 days of IPL can earn them 50 lakhs a year, wouldn't a lot of them just say this is good enough.

  • A first class cricketer on March 14, 2009, 12:34 GMT

    Aakash, Keep up the good work, mate and don't let your detracters (Jay D n Bishal) put you off. You're doing a great job about telling people what we guys go through and if someone doesn't want to hear the truth, just let them be. I suggest to the people who aren't interested in knowing the truth that please read something else. This blog, so far, has been very informative and I hope it stays this way. We go through a lot to play this game and I fail to understand that why some people always want the rosy side of things. Perhaps its because of these people and their attitude of 'sab chalta hai' is responsible for what we go through. Carry on the good work, bro.

  • Naval Patel on March 14, 2009, 12:10 GMT

    Akash, please enlighten us - do the team and local Association officials reside in the same hotels which they inflict on you?

  • Youvi on March 14, 2009, 0:08 GMT

    Aaakash, your writing is both informative and entertaining. At times poignant too when I read about the travel/hotel conditions. All through the years I had always hoped that the domestic cricket such as Ranji/Duleep/Deodhar Trophies would would regain the cricket fan interest and stature they once had. Talking about the IPL, how are the team names selected ? I thought Rajasthan Royals was a neat name as also Mumbai Indians, both seemed to suit the region they represent. But what are Super Kings ? Also instead of Kings X1, I would think Punjab Lions made more sense. And Knight Riders, where did that come from ? The old TV show, I presume, but why ? Maybe this has beend discussed elsewhere but I wondered about these.

  • Bishal Sinha on March 13, 2009, 18:21 GMT

    HI Aakash..used to love your column earlier. But dont you think its getting stale. All you seem to do is complain about the hotels/itinerary/ball conditions/food/etc. I would think a simple conversation with Arun Jaitely take care off these nuances. You guys have a tough job, but guess what so does everybody else. The boss always wants you to work more and spend less on you. And if things are so difficult maybe stepping aside isnt that big a deal. You can still make enough money through IPL. Just to clarify things I did buy your book which I loved and believed till Sehwag got fired up that you may have been India best test opener since SMG. But please try to be more positive in your blog. cheers.

  • Manish Jha on March 13, 2009, 17:09 GMT

    hey Aakash..great article mate..sorry 2 hear bout ur conditions..wonder what does BCCI do with all the molaah they earn if they cant provide the players proper hotel rooms and proper transportation....nyway All d best mate..do well n cum back into Indian team as soon as possible..

  • Anish on March 16, 2009, 9:13 GMT

    Look at the bright side, Aakash. Atleast you do not have to sleep in the stadium dorms as our national athletes, hockey and football players do.

  • Sidhanta Patnaik on March 15, 2009, 13:40 GMT

    I am from Cuttack/Bhubaneswar. To an extent Akash is right. The standard in these hotels remain to be the same. I keep hearing from Pravanjan Mullick about the plight of hotels in other cities as well. So across the country the scene is pretty much the same. I so agree with someone's suggestion in this blog, advising BCCI to set up an exclusive T&H department for domestic matches. State associations are still ages away from being professional.

  • mukesh kunal on March 14, 2009, 22:23 GMT

    Hello Akash, Well akash i also belong to this part of the country and i very well know the weather condition.But i was pleased to know that film dialogs do inspire u . And inspite of your busy schedule u take time out and watch movies.Coming to cricket well it will be a tough contest between North zone and East zone because with the likes of u and shikhar dhawan and others can give nightmares to the opposition.But frankly speaking north will miss sehwag and gambhir because of national duties.Never the less it looks a strong team in paper.But cricket is an unpredictable game and whoever plays well on that particular days is finally adjudged the winner.East looks a bit weaker because apart from Manoj Tiwary there's no one who can win match for their zone single handedly.Moreover they are weak in the bowling department too with not much options for manoj who will lead east zone in the absence of Shukla.

  • Vijay on March 14, 2009, 19:06 GMT

    Hi Akash,

    Your articles since off late have been moving increasingly to the negative side of life and cricket. I think your plight is much more tolerable and manageable than many of the underprevileged people living in our country. May be you should start looking at the positive side of life, may be it is time for you to think it is because of cricket that you are able to travel to all these places (of course stay in these dungeons as you intent to stay). You can't expect the facilities that is provided to international cricketers to all the cricketer's playing the domestic competetion because IC brings money to the board and DC does not. It is the same everywhere. You go to a Corporate, you see the top officers are always paid better. It is just a way of life. I think it would be really good for you if start whinning and start concentrating on how to get back to the Indian team again so that you could enjoy the 5-star facilities. Cheers mate.

  • vishwanath on March 14, 2009, 16:33 GMT

    Hi Aakash, I am a regular reader of your blogs and quite enjoy your simple prose. Great job. One thing that crosses my mind: isn't the disparity between domestic and international cricket what drives cricketers to strive for more, ie work harder, strive further to make it as an international. i am not for a moment suggesting that cricketers deserve to stay in third rate hotels like the one in cuttack. but if they are provided first class facilities, would they not then lose the drive to move further up? maybe not everyone. but just a few who'll say ah ok, this is good enough, why should i stretch myself that extra bit. already i believe that IPL is going to have the exact same effect. when you look at the fact that domestic players are already making huge amounts, would they just have that desire and drive to go the extra yard and have the yearning for international cricket? if 45 days of IPL can earn them 50 lakhs a year, wouldn't a lot of them just say this is good enough.

  • A first class cricketer on March 14, 2009, 12:34 GMT

    Aakash, Keep up the good work, mate and don't let your detracters (Jay D n Bishal) put you off. You're doing a great job about telling people what we guys go through and if someone doesn't want to hear the truth, just let them be. I suggest to the people who aren't interested in knowing the truth that please read something else. This blog, so far, has been very informative and I hope it stays this way. We go through a lot to play this game and I fail to understand that why some people always want the rosy side of things. Perhaps its because of these people and their attitude of 'sab chalta hai' is responsible for what we go through. Carry on the good work, bro.

  • Naval Patel on March 14, 2009, 12:10 GMT

    Akash, please enlighten us - do the team and local Association officials reside in the same hotels which they inflict on you?

  • Youvi on March 14, 2009, 0:08 GMT

    Aaakash, your writing is both informative and entertaining. At times poignant too when I read about the travel/hotel conditions. All through the years I had always hoped that the domestic cricket such as Ranji/Duleep/Deodhar Trophies would would regain the cricket fan interest and stature they once had. Talking about the IPL, how are the team names selected ? I thought Rajasthan Royals was a neat name as also Mumbai Indians, both seemed to suit the region they represent. But what are Super Kings ? Also instead of Kings X1, I would think Punjab Lions made more sense. And Knight Riders, where did that come from ? The old TV show, I presume, but why ? Maybe this has beend discussed elsewhere but I wondered about these.

  • Bishal Sinha on March 13, 2009, 18:21 GMT

    HI Aakash..used to love your column earlier. But dont you think its getting stale. All you seem to do is complain about the hotels/itinerary/ball conditions/food/etc. I would think a simple conversation with Arun Jaitely take care off these nuances. You guys have a tough job, but guess what so does everybody else. The boss always wants you to work more and spend less on you. And if things are so difficult maybe stepping aside isnt that big a deal. You can still make enough money through IPL. Just to clarify things I did buy your book which I loved and believed till Sehwag got fired up that you may have been India best test opener since SMG. But please try to be more positive in your blog. cheers.

  • Manish Jha on March 13, 2009, 17:09 GMT

    hey Aakash..great article mate..sorry 2 hear bout ur conditions..wonder what does BCCI do with all the molaah they earn if they cant provide the players proper hotel rooms and proper transportation....nyway All d best mate..do well n cum back into Indian team as soon as possible..

  • Jay D on March 13, 2009, 16:56 GMT

    I am sorry, but Aakash, you need to stop being a whiner!

    I travel a lot too, and I have stayed in Dwaraka in Cuttack. It is definitely not as bad as you make it to be. I think you are just used to the luxuries of 5 star hotels during a stint with India, and cannot take a downgrade. Life comes with ups and downs, so we all need to face these small issues.

  • Ashwath on March 13, 2009, 16:39 GMT

    Hey Aakash. Just wondering if the DDCA or the orrissa cricket assosciation is responsible for your stay, travel etc.

    Keep up the good work Cheers

  • Neha J on March 13, 2009, 16:01 GMT

    I cannot stop pitying for you players. It's unbelievable that this is how a 'premier domestic' tourney is treated by the BCCI..! Hope these conditions improve by the World Cup 2011.

  • Nipun Jain on March 13, 2009, 15:11 GMT

    Aakash, another good article indeed with insight to factors which are though out of green turf but still intangibly related to cricket in all practicalities! I wonder why domestic tournament does not meet the same treatment as IPL or ICL. I've been staying in UK for past 2+ years and the facilities provided to county players are absolutely superb and at par with every expected standard. I reckon if not directly, one way things may improve will be to include a couple of overseas players in Ranji/ Deodhar trophy games with the intent of letting doemstic players learn and play with players of international experience, exposure and success. I reckon that will also lead to BCCI giving more importance to the factors as to where players are staying, how are they travelling and all. If you tend to disagree, please feel free to rip apart my views :)! All the very best ... good luck for all your coming matches!

  • sandeep on March 13, 2009, 15:04 GMT

    hey aakash... great article!...wonder what does BCCI do with all the molaah they earn if they cant provide the players proper hotel rooms and proper transportation....

  • megha on March 13, 2009, 14:08 GMT

    rely sad 2 know ..........our domestic cricketers do deserve five star hotels.........such arrangement speaks lengths of the negligence of d authoritiz...........

  • Raj J on March 13, 2009, 13:58 GMT

    Uhmmm..with the kind of money BCCI possess the first requirement for them should have been to give all their non international playing players the minimum decent necessities, if not luxury. I wonder why they can’t rent 3-4 houses (Guest houses kind) in the towns the matches are scheduled and put the teams and match officials there. What minimum BCCI can do is to set up a travel department exclusively for the domestic players and handle all the issues in much more efficient way. If they had already set up one, then looks like it isn't progressing in the right bearing.

  • Merwin on March 13, 2009, 13:24 GMT

    Sorry to hear about the state of the hotels...Guess, somethings never change...I remember watching the end of match vs Bengal when Tiwary hit a full toss to the boundary. Dahiya(Coach) was really upset that the ball was given to the left armer and was pretty animated as well. Wonder what the fuss was about...Would be great if you shed more light on it...

  • Karthik on March 13, 2009, 12:40 GMT

    all the best for the tournament..

  • Sekhar on March 13, 2009, 12:31 GMT

    "After all this is the premier domestic tournament"

    You know it,some of us know it,but does the cricket association,which arranges for the bus and the hotel,know it? Which state association is the culprit here--your own DDCA which is busy in discussions with the BCCI over IPL security? Or the Orissa Cricket Association which is busy in talks with the Knightriders to bring them to Orissa and conduct IPL matches in Cuttack? The BCCI has to be blamed here.You already mentioned in an earlier post that it gives a lot of money to all the state associations and that they (the state assns)misuse it.Apart from this,the BCCI should also ensure that such issues of substandard hotel accommodation and transport are dealt with severely.

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  • Sekhar on March 13, 2009, 12:31 GMT

    "After all this is the premier domestic tournament"

    You know it,some of us know it,but does the cricket association,which arranges for the bus and the hotel,know it? Which state association is the culprit here--your own DDCA which is busy in discussions with the BCCI over IPL security? Or the Orissa Cricket Association which is busy in talks with the Knightriders to bring them to Orissa and conduct IPL matches in Cuttack? The BCCI has to be blamed here.You already mentioned in an earlier post that it gives a lot of money to all the state associations and that they (the state assns)misuse it.Apart from this,the BCCI should also ensure that such issues of substandard hotel accommodation and transport are dealt with severely.

  • Karthik on March 13, 2009, 12:40 GMT

    all the best for the tournament..

  • Merwin on March 13, 2009, 13:24 GMT

    Sorry to hear about the state of the hotels...Guess, somethings never change...I remember watching the end of match vs Bengal when Tiwary hit a full toss to the boundary. Dahiya(Coach) was really upset that the ball was given to the left armer and was pretty animated as well. Wonder what the fuss was about...Would be great if you shed more light on it...

  • Raj J on March 13, 2009, 13:58 GMT

    Uhmmm..with the kind of money BCCI possess the first requirement for them should have been to give all their non international playing players the minimum decent necessities, if not luxury. I wonder why they can’t rent 3-4 houses (Guest houses kind) in the towns the matches are scheduled and put the teams and match officials there. What minimum BCCI can do is to set up a travel department exclusively for the domestic players and handle all the issues in much more efficient way. If they had already set up one, then looks like it isn't progressing in the right bearing.

  • megha on March 13, 2009, 14:08 GMT

    rely sad 2 know ..........our domestic cricketers do deserve five star hotels.........such arrangement speaks lengths of the negligence of d authoritiz...........

  • sandeep on March 13, 2009, 15:04 GMT

    hey aakash... great article!...wonder what does BCCI do with all the molaah they earn if they cant provide the players proper hotel rooms and proper transportation....

  • Nipun Jain on March 13, 2009, 15:11 GMT

    Aakash, another good article indeed with insight to factors which are though out of green turf but still intangibly related to cricket in all practicalities! I wonder why domestic tournament does not meet the same treatment as IPL or ICL. I've been staying in UK for past 2+ years and the facilities provided to county players are absolutely superb and at par with every expected standard. I reckon if not directly, one way things may improve will be to include a couple of overseas players in Ranji/ Deodhar trophy games with the intent of letting doemstic players learn and play with players of international experience, exposure and success. I reckon that will also lead to BCCI giving more importance to the factors as to where players are staying, how are they travelling and all. If you tend to disagree, please feel free to rip apart my views :)! All the very best ... good luck for all your coming matches!

  • Neha J on March 13, 2009, 16:01 GMT

    I cannot stop pitying for you players. It's unbelievable that this is how a 'premier domestic' tourney is treated by the BCCI..! Hope these conditions improve by the World Cup 2011.

  • Ashwath on March 13, 2009, 16:39 GMT

    Hey Aakash. Just wondering if the DDCA or the orrissa cricket assosciation is responsible for your stay, travel etc.

    Keep up the good work Cheers

  • Jay D on March 13, 2009, 16:56 GMT

    I am sorry, but Aakash, you need to stop being a whiner!

    I travel a lot too, and I have stayed in Dwaraka in Cuttack. It is definitely not as bad as you make it to be. I think you are just used to the luxuries of 5 star hotels during a stint with India, and cannot take a downgrade. Life comes with ups and downs, so we all need to face these small issues.