Sachin Tendulkar Bats For Women’s Cricket
Batting great Sachin Tendulkar has urged the authorities to launch a tournament like the Times Shield, which would provide immense exposure to India’s women cricketers.
During his speech as the chief guest at the Times Shield annual awards here at MCABKC on Friday evening, Tendulkar said: “I would want to make a request to the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA), the Times Group, and all the corporates…our women’s cricket team has really done us proud. But, there’s no tournaments for them. (I’m) putting in a request here that we should support women’s cricket. It could be a One-day tournament, where women cricketers from all across the country can come to play cricket in Mumbai, and go back as better cricketers. My dream is that the Times Shield should impact women’s cricket in the same way it has impacted men’s cricket,” Tendulkar said, winning hearts instantly in a gathering which included former India skipper Dilip Vengsarkar , ex-India batsman Pravin Amre, former BCCI game development manager Ratnakar Shetty, besides hundreds of local cricketers who had come to collect their award from the batting legend.
Clad in a simple, grey shirt and black trousers, the most successful batsman in Test & ODI history was naturally the cynosure of all eyes at this year’s event, which was supported by SHARP as the presenting partner.
The batting maestro didn’t hold back his words while praising the iconic tournament. “The Times Shield has been an integral part, which has contributed something constructive to not just Mumbai, but Indian cricket. I can almost say that every player who’s played for India, has played in the Times Shield first. And the rest have come back to get some quality practice after having played for India,” he said.
“I come in a different category here. When I went to Pakistan as a 16-year-old, I wasn’t even in a legal position to sign my contract with the BCCI. My father had to actually sign that contract. And that was the reason that I didn’t play in the Times Shield first before I played for India. But later, when I turned 18, I joined Sungrace Mafatlal. When I played the Times Shield, I saw a promising youngster, who went on to become a world-class fast bowler-Zaheer Khan. Zaheer and I played at the MIG ground for the first time,” he said.
As expected, the batting legend from Mumbai was well aware of the rich history of the Times Shield. “We heard amazing stories, where three to four thousand people would turn up just to watch a Times Shield match. I don’t think the Ranji Trophy has been able to attract that sort of a crowd, especially after neutral venues have been introduced. And that was because there were teams like the ACC, which once fielded 11 Test players. Imagine 11 Test players playing a company game – I don’t think that can happen today. It is mindboggling. But such was the charm of the Times Shield. Players from across India – the cream of Indian cricket, played,” he said.
The Times Shield, he felt, was instrumental in helping Mumbai dominate the domestic circuit for a long time. “That was the biggest contribution of the Times Group in Mumbai winning so many Ranji titles. Many players in my time played in the Times Shield, and they all had one thing to say: The Times Shield produced quality cricket, and it was the ideal sort of match practice before you played international cricket. The Mumbai cricketers got the privilege to share the dressing room with and play with the cream of Indian cricket. It benefited both the outstation players and Mumbai cricket,” he said.