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33 players flunk U-16 age test

The tournament sub-committee of Jharkhand State Cricket Association (JSCA) has suspended a bunch of 33 U-16 cricketers who were found to be overage during tests conducted by the Board of Control for Cricket India (BCCI).

The suspended players — which includes five from Jamshedpur, four from Ranchi and three each from Dhanbad and Bokaro — have been banned for a two-year period during which they would not be eligible for selection or to play any tournaments under the banner of the state association. (see box)

The suspension, which is likely to set a precedent, was taken during a meeting of the sub-committee on Sunday with Jharkhand State Cricket Association assistant secretary Aseem Kumar Singh confirming the turn of events on Monday to The Telegraph.

“The cricketers have been punished for their fault. We had warned them of a five-year suspension period if they faltered at the age-verification test. We had also specifically asked them to withdraw their names from selections if they were overage. But they did not listen to us,” Singh said.

According to him, the state cricket association had on October last year sent 52 U-16 players for verification tests at Ranchi’s Orchid Hospital. While 19 managed to pass the test, 33 faltered and were subsequently declared overage. The tests were conducted under the presence of age verification programme officer Vivek Bhasin, who works as a radiologist at Orchid.

“We X-rayed the wrist bones of all the 52 probables in Ranchi and sent them to BCCI. The board had directed all its affiliated state associations to conduct such tests and send the results over to Mumbai for further verifications by a panel of four radiologists,” Singh said.

Prodded as to why the suspension had been delayed, the JSCA secretary said Sunday was the first time the tournament sub-committee had met after September 2 last year.

Before the BCCI verification, the state cricket body had done its bit by conducting the preliminary set of tests.

“Generally, the third molar teeth is found missing in people who are below the age of 16. Our screening was based on the molar test primarily. The BCCI then uses an advance age verification method with their results mostly tallying with ours. There is no way the age of the players could have been determined by the naked eye,” Singh said.

The shame notwithstanding, the state cricket body, however, had no problems in picking a squad for the U-16 Vijay Merchant Trophy on Monday.

“Picking 16 players from a pool of 19 obviously affects the team composition. However, we believe that the boys who have made the cut are structurally sound and could easily slip into their pre-determined roles in a team,” Singh pointed out.

The state body was lucky when it had sent its bunch of U-19 players to Ranchi for age-verification tests.

“We sent 25 players for the tests all of who cleared it. The results were later certified by the BCCI,” Singh said.