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Wednesday, September 11, 2013

youngest player to make debut .. Kanga league and the famous .....

Quite frequently there is debate on Cricket Vs. other sports ~ one undenying fact that is in favour of Cricket is the Organisation levels and the support that the game enjoys amongst general public and Corporates.  In Chennai, there is a very organized way of conducting the game – the League Cricket, there are 5 divisions – the winner of First division claims the ‘Rajah of Palayampatti shield’ – the ladder to success is the good performance in 1st Div league, takes to Ranji [for the State] – Ranji to Zone and zone to the India cap – there are very few who have had short cuts and fewer still, who have succeeded that way…..  In Mumbai, it is the Dr HD Kanga Memorial Cricket League, inaugurated in 1948; named after Dr. Hormasji Dorabji Kanga, who played 43 First class cricket matches as an all-rounder, and was also a selector for the India national cricket team.

A couple of days ago, read an interesting piece on the story of two debutants ~ one a high profile one and other breaking a record on (by) entry…. Before that an interesting trivia from Cricinfo [Ask Steve] – recently Boyd Rankin, playing for England, dismissed Ed Joyce of Ireland. In the 2007 World Cup Rankin - then playing for Ireland - dismissed Joyce who was then playing for England.  Remember Eoin Morgan also played for Ireland and is now playing for England.  

That debut in Kanga league was made in to a great event by the posse to TV cameras and the media glare though the young person did not survive longer to have that covered…….. it was Arjun Tendulkar - the 13-year-old son of Sachin Tendulkar -  who opened the batting for his foster club, the Young Parsees Cricket Club. It was a short innings. His only run came off a medium-pacer called Sachin before he was stumped. Later on the day, Sachin Tendulkar made an impassioned plea to let his son enjoy his cricket without undue pressure. The Young Parsees and the United Club of India were playing the first match of division G - the seventh, and lowest, division - of the Kanga League, an annual Mumbai fixture whose start was deferred to the first week of September to avoid monsoon-related disruptions.  
Arjun celebrating his maiden wicket.......

A kilometre away from the hustle-bustle of Azad Maidan, the Oval, next to Churchgate station, hosted a number of League matches too. On one of the pitches on the south side of the ground, another young cricketer was inviting media attention. Mushir Khan, at eight, is the youngest player to feature in the Kanga League. He broke the record of his brother, Sarfaraz Khan - who recently broke into the India Under-19 team - by two years.  Mushir, captained by his father Naushad Khan, is in the team as a left-arm spinner, but batted at No. 5. He scored only 4, but he stuck around for almost an hour, helping his team, Sportsfield Cricket Club, recover from a bad start. He spent a few minutes posing for a local newspaper photographer before moving on to do a byte for a TV channel.

~ and that takes one to the Q what is youth and how young is the right age to play at a greater level…. Records are meant to be broken – but still a 8 year old playing alongside seniors appears more than a bit odd….

In Indian Test Cricket history – for sometime the youngest player was AG Milkha Singh who debuted against Ausgralia in Jan 1960 when he was 18 y and 13 days young; Maninder Singh made his debut at Karachi in Dec 82 and he was 17Y 193 days; overtaken by L Sivaramakrishnan in Apr 1983 17Y 118D – only to be outsmarted by the evergreen Sachin Tendulkar at 16Y 205 days at Karachi on 15th Nov 89 under the captaincy of Krishnamachari Srikkanth.  The youngest player to play for India record in One dayers is also held by Sachin Tendulkar, who played his 1st ODI at Gujranwala on 18th Dec 1989 at the age of 16Y 238D.

At International level, there are a few who have upstaged Sachin…. The youngest is Hasan Raza whose debut in Tests came on 24th Oct 1996 against Zimbabwe and followed up with ODI debut on 30th Oct 1996 at 14 years and 227 days and 233 days respectively………thus far the youngest player !!  Playing international cricket at 14 is exceptional for sure – though some doubts were expressed of his age. He played reasonably well but went into wilderness  ~ later he contributed more to his downfall by  joining the unsanctioned Indian Cricket League and fading into oblivion.

Of course, it is not the debut alone that matters – form is temporary and class is permanent.  If you feel like disputing, first read the following few paras – examples of two Indian cricketers : In Dec 1988 -   Alan Nanik Sippy now 50+  played alongside Shisir Hattangadi and Lalchand Rajput – both were acclaimed as good prospects.  Sippy scored 127 against Gujarat ; Rajput made 99; and a small boy of 15 made a century on debut.  That was young Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar.  He did not have to wait long and in Nov 1989 made his debut at Karachi Test……. Salil Ankola, Shahid Saeed and Waqar Younis all made their debut in the same test alongside Sachin.  For Salil Ankola and Saeed that was to be their only test.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
11th Sept. 2013.

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