TOOTH FOR TRUTH: The JSCA office in Jamshedpur on Wednesday. Picture by Bhola Prasad
Here’s a Bollywood-cricket connect that’s much more obvious than the slightly-dated Deepika Padukone-Dhoni-Yuvi gossip.
If starlets fudge their age, so do fledgling cricketers.
Jharkhand State Cricket Association (JSCA), which in 2012 discovered this truth the hard way before finalising the Under-16 Vijay Merchant Trophy team last season, is more cautious now.
The state association has shortlisted 46 budding cricketers for age verification test to be conducted at Orchid Hospital in Ranchi soon.
Aspirants, chosen from U-14 and U-16 inter-district tourneys, have been asked to report with their parents to JSCA office, Keenan Stadium in Jamshedpur on Thursday. Each player has to bring his original birth certificates issued by respective notified area committees and schools as well as a molar tooth X-ray report.
Last year, of 52 shortlisted players, only 19 were found to be below 16. As many as 33 had unblushingly lied about their ages, Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) doctors discovered during their bone density tests.
A thoroughly embarrassed JSCA decided to first suspend the 33 players for five years and later, out of consideration for their careers, reduced it to two.
This year, shortlisted players from Ranchi, Bokaro, Chatra, Jamshedpur (East Singhbhum), Deoghar, Dumka, Garhwa, Godda, Gumla, Hazaribagh, Jamtara, Koderma, Latehar, Lohardaga, Pakur, Sahebganj, West Singhbhum and Simdega have gone through preliminary screenings.
“In U-14 and U-16 district tourneys, we have been careful. Players took part in these matches after due clearance from observers,” said JSCA assistant secretary Aseem Kumar Singh.
Earlier, performance of players in inter-district tourneys was the key to enter the list, but observers had very little role to play.
This time, Singh added they also asked district cricket outfits to conduct a molar test. “Generally, the third molar tooth is found missing in persons below 16 years,” he said.
Singh added the date for age verification test in Ranchi had not yet been finalised. “But the BCCI has asked us to complete formalities before September 28. X-rays of players will be taken before a BCCI representative and an age verification programme officer appointed by us. All X-rays will be despatched to Mumbai where each will be verified by a panel of radiologists,” Singh said.
This time the age score will improve, he hoped.
In 1988, an Under-16 Sachin Tendulkar made an unbroken 664-run partnership with friend Vinod Kambli in an inter-school match and reduced a bowler to tears, or so the legend goes. Many in Jharkhand U-16, which will start its Vijay Merchant season from December onward, have similar dreams. Provided their bones and tooth agree with their birth certificates.
Why is age classification so vital in competitive sport?