Guwahati, Aug 18: Relegated from the Guwahati Sports Association’s (GSA) first division cricket league for the first time in 30 years, New Star Club is confident of regaining its place in the top tier.
The club, which has produced some of the finest players from Assam, including the likes of late Zahir Iqbal Alam and Gautam Dutta, among others, is today fighting for survival.
After being barred from practising at Nehru Stadium, coach Abdul Roub has been forced to train at various places, including hanging ball practice at his terrace as well as in vacant spaces around Ulubari, which houses the Nehru Stadium.
“We have been struggling three-and-half years since to get a place in Nehru Stadium. A proper practice ground is affecting us the most. Potential players usually don’t prefer to play for us owing to lack of a practice ground and those who are on our team are not financially sound enough and uncertain about pursuing the game in the future,” said Roub, popularly known as Babunda.
About losing its place in the Nehru Stadium, Roub said: “We had been traditionally using the ground for decades. However, a few years back, we faced a funds crunch, which led to us defaulting on the rent and losing the ground. In spite of what happened in the past, I am confident we will be able to pull things up. Talks are on and hopefully, we will be allotted a space in the near future.”
Roub, who runs the club almost single-handedly, used to train players at the practice turf in front of gallery number 8 in Nehru Stadium till 2008.
Though officials concerned could not be contacted despite repeated efforts, sources in the Board of Sports of Assam, which looks after and rents out the multipurpose Nehru Stadium, said the club’s practice arena had to be vacated because the particular turfs are used for different sports activities. “They can practice in another section of the ground if they pay the rent regularly,” an official said.
New Star Club, which was once regarded as a force to reckon with, failed to garner any points in the GSA First Division League last season.
With limited resources at disposal, the club had also engaged four outstation professionals from Delhi to salvage its position towards the end of last season. However, things did not go as expected.
“We are going through our worst phase and even our efforts to consolidate our place in the top tier failed. Former Ranji players Gautam Dutta, Javed Zaman and Subhrajit Saikia did come forward to our aid by taking transfers last season. However, official engagements kept them out,” revealed Roub.
Dutta, too, spoke on his plans regarding the club’s future. “Zaved Zaman, Saikia and I hoped to play for the club last season but couldn’t do so owing to official engagements. I certainly do have plans but it would be too early to speak on it. The main goal would be to help the club return to the ‘A’ division again, for which we need to prepare a side. It becomes difficult for me as I am not in Guwahati at present,” he said. “For all these years Babunda has been running the club and I don’t think it’s possible for one person to run a club nowadays. The biggest constraint is finance. We will have to search for other practice avenues too,” Dutta added.
The club, which has earmarked nearly Rs 50,000 for the cricket team in a season, will figure in the second division league this year.