By Bedobrata Banerjee and Anirban Roy Choudhury
There aren’t many countries in the world where a first-class cricketer opens a roadside stall while his peers who played for India drive Audi, Mercedes and live in a penthouse. The lack of parity is disturbing as playing Ranji Trophy is no mean feat in India. Assam is a state with a population of more than two crores. That state team’s playing XI featured left-arm spinner Prakash Bhagat who now finds it difficult to make ends meet.
Recently, Barak Bulletin published a detailed piece on how Prakash Bhagat was forced to sell Dal Puri on a cart standing roadside. He runs it with the help of his mother who herself is old and unwell. Silchar boy, Prakash Bhagat is locally known as ‘Poxy’ and his cricketing journey to the state team and eventually to National Cricket Academy is one of a kind. He is regarded as one of the greats of Cachar among the likes of late Amal Das and current Ranji Trophy player, Pritam Das. Surviving in the state team for a Silcharian is nothing short of climbing a mountain hit by an avalanche.
The story appealed to many including former India Under 19 captain, Amikar Dayal. The coach cum administrator, also a member of the Indian Cricketers’ Association tabled the case of Prakash Bhagat before president Ashok Malhotra. Speaking with Barak Bulletin, the former Indian Under-19 captain said, “I was touched by the condition of the kid. No player who played Ranji Trophy should have to go through such pain of selling stuff on a cart standing by the road.”
As nobody from Assam highlighted the case of Bhagat, though it is out of his jurisdiction, Amikar wrote to the board at ICA. “It was immediately approved and the money has been transferred to him. You can call it the first-aid as this is not the last help he will get from the ICA. We are here, I am here to guide him to grow in life,” added Amikar Dayal.
His suggestion to Prakash Bhagat is that the left-arm spinner should hit the field again and start training to be a professional coach. There are several courses that the Board for Control of Cricket in India (BCCI) has through which one can become a State-level coach or be a part of the coaching staff and can earn around Rs 10 lakh-a-season.
Moreover, Amikar says, “ICA will write to the Government of Assam and the district administration urging to evaluate his profile for government employment opportunities.” “If he deserves a job through sports quota, why shouldn’t he get it,” added Amikar.
Coach of IPL star who will now play for India in Sri Lanka Ishaan Kishan and many others, Amikar was personally touched by the condition of Prakash Bhagat. “He can come to my academy for coaching assignments or any other guidance and I will extend help in all possible manner,” added Amikar Dayal.
He runs a cricket academy called Amikar Dayal Centre for Cricket Excellence in association with Xavier’s Cricket Academy of St. Xavier’s High School in Patna. At ICA, he is a representative of the Bihar region but always keeps an eye on former players who aren’t in good economic shape at the moment. “Playing for India depends on a lot of factors including luck. Many good players never play for India for different reasons. There should not be such a wide difference between how we treat the players with India cap and those who didn’t play for the country but played years at Ranji Trophy for the state. The difference isn’t much and back then, there was no IPL either,” concluded the former Indian Under 19 captain.
Here is the story published earlier: