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Prajakta Pawar in Pune 23 May 2012 - 10:53am IST

Ex-cricketers honoured in Pune

BCCI presents one-time cash reward to former greats at Subrata Roy Sahara Stadium

In recognition of their contribution to cricket, former cricketers who played international and first-class cricket and who retired before 2004, will be honoured during the playoff matches of IPL 2012. From the surplus revenue to the BCCI from the IPL and CLT20, a one-time payment will be made to these players.

In the first of such presentations to be held to pay tribute to the stalwarts of the game, the following ex-cricketers were handed this reward at the Subrata Roy Sahara Stadium in front of friends, family and cricket lovers today: Chandu Borde, Sanjay Manjrekar, Nari Contractor, Ajit Wadekar, Anshuman Gaekwad, Bapu Nadkarni, Arshad Ayub, Madhav Apte, M R Rege, Srikanth Kalyani, P Shivalkar, T Arothe, Surendra Bhave, SS Sugvekar and Venkat Sundaram.

A few of the former greats of Indian cricket, who graced the field when the game was still taking root in the country, shared their views on the occasion.

Excerpts:

Anshuman Gaekwad: I think this initiative is fantastic. I never expected to this to come up. I have seen a lot of cricket bodies all over the world and the facilities extended to the players and otherwise. But this is the first time I have seen some board really coming forward and giving money to the ex -cricketers. What usually happens is out-of-sight is out-of-mind. Not many associations are really taking care of the cricketers of yesteryears. [...] This kind of initiative is a big-time help, financially, and it would make them smile.

It was a great honour to be there with all the legends, the senior cricketers, the junior cricketers and to be the focus of all the people there leaving the IPL aside. That we were asked to come there on the ground, was a great honour, and you feel nice [...].

M R Rege: Felt like our hardwork has been recognized and rewarded. It is a bighearted gesture by the BCCI. In my time, we would get only Rs 250 for a Test match. [...] Now that cricket is a profession, is a good thing, because a player can focus on playing cricket and doesn’t have to do other things. [...]. The BCCI has to be thanked for generating the resources for cricket and cricketers.

Bapu Nadkarni: It is very nice of BCCI to consider all cricketers like us. The financial position of the Board as well as the cricketers was not good at all. But when they have the money now and are really well, it is very nice of them to help cricketers like us who devoted their whole career with no money at all.

Padmakar Shivalkar: This is the most memorable moment, because of this recognition that BCCI has given. Before this, the pension sort of thing that they have started is a big thing that they have done for us. The high points on field in cricket are different, but this is the biggest moment of my life. Whatever we did with utmost sincerity back then, this is the reward for that. And we have no words to express our thanks to BCCI. [...]

Chandu Borde: It has come as very pleasant surprise to me, when I read in the newspaper and later on when I got the message. I played for a number of years and perhaps the highest number of Test matches in this group and whatever I earned that time, this is hundred times more than that. This is a very useful and great gesture on the part of the BCCI and I really thank the president and all the committee members of the BBCI for taking this great decision [...]. I am very touched by this gesture. [...] I am very happy that they have taken this decision. And that it is not only us, but they are going to take care of the widows also, which is a tremendous gesture and I congratulate them for this. All the players who played during that time will be always very thankful for the board. I am very thankful.

Madhav Apte: My generation are extremely pleased and thankful to the BCCI for two reasons; financial help of course is very welcome, but more than that it is the recognition, which we older cricketers have been given, I think that is important. Because when we played, I played Test cricket 58 years ago, so to be recognized is very satisfying. BCCI needs all the thanks and praise for what they have done.

Venkat Sundaram: When we played cricket in the 70s and 80s, we never dream that we would live to see such a day when for our contribution to Indian cricket, [we] will be honoured. But it is wonderful to be here and I think it is a tremendous initiative of the board because as you get older, you need a lot of help – financial and otherwise. And it’s very nice that the board has remembered us at this time. It is a very humbling thought and I think it is a tremendous initiative and we have no words to express how grateful we are.

Receiving [this reward] at the IPL playoffs makes it even more special because it is important to introduce the legends of the game to generation next. 80 percent of the spectators or maybe more, who were present at the ground, were not even born when we played. So they should also know that there were many pillars of Indian cricket, who contributed to the game, and what you are seeing today is the efforts, which were started then are now bearing fruit.

T Arothe: It’s a great gesture from the BCCI and IPL, no doubt about it. [...] They are giving us this memento or cheque and we are all delighted.

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