Suren Ram Phookun
The cricketing fraternity of the State including the well-wishers of the Assam Cricket Association (ACA), burst into jubilation, when the ACA finally decided to observe its eight-month-long Diamond Jubilee celebrations from April 1 to November 30 with great fiesta. In the meantime, ACA worked out detailed programmes to celebrate the historic occasion.
The maiden adhoc committee of the ACA was formed on November 30, 1947 in a well-attended meeting held in the Cotton Collegiate School hostel in Guwahati. Altogether 28 members had represented various districts, clubs, and educational institutions in the first meeting. Lokapriya Gopinath Bordoloi and Pulin Das were nominated as president and secretary respectively of the newly-formed body unanimously.
Presently, ACA is a busy organisation holding several important tournaments including Nuruddin Ahmed Trophy senior inter-district tournament, Nurul Amin Trophy, Sashi Prasad Baruah Trophy, RG Barooah U-16 tournament, Jaikanta Barooah U-19 tournament, women inter district tournament, Dilip Sarma Trophy inter district school tournament etc.
The great sons of the State like Lokapriya Gopinath Bordoloi, Fakaruddin Ali Ahmed, Radha Govinda Baruah, Surendra Nath Das, Ratanlal Singhania, Nilimoy Choudhury, Prafulla Kumar Mahanta had adorned the ACA president’s coveted chair while Pulin Das, Nurul Amin, Rameswar Tripathy, KD Hazarika, Sahajananda Ojha, Rana Goswami, Abdul Matin, Nandan Bezbarua and presently Bikash Baruah are the persons who have shouldered the responsibility of the honorary secretaryship of the ACA. Ojha is a well-known personality in Indian cricket also. He was the administrative manager of the BCCI, to the Pakistan tour of India. At the moment Bikash Baruah is doing exceedingly well to highlight achievements of the organisation.
The present body of the ACA under the dynamic leadership of president Gautam Roy, a Cabinet Minister of the State, took a laudable decision to construct a cricket stadium at Barsapara in Guwahati. After the completion of the stadium it would be a gift to the entire cricket fraternity in India. Initially the fund position of the ACA was in a pitiable condition. KD Hazarika, the former secretary, had to bank heavily on public donations. Another secretary Rameswar Tripathy also had a similar fate. The ACA was always running under a deficit budget. But in subsequent years, the fund position seems to be improving with holding of the One-day International matches. Interestingly, almost all the past secretaries had to carryout the administrative work of the Association from their own residences. It was only during Pulin Das’s tenure when the ACA was able to acquire an office room in the Nehru Stadium from NSCA. Now one can see the ACA office situated in the Nehru Stadium humming with activities during the peak cricket season.
Foreign Teams in Assam : Before the construction of the Nehru Stadium, Jorhat was the nerve-centre of cricket in Assam and the first ever foreign team to visit the State was the Silver Jubilee Overseas Cricket Team. Several promising Assam cricketers played for East Zone in that match. Then again the Australian team visited Guwahati on December 6, 7 and 8, 1969 to play against the East Zone. Bill Lawry and Ambar Roy were the rival captains. The Australia versus East Zone match attracted record crowd, which was played at the Nehru Stadium. The London School boys also played a match at Guwahati. Except Bangladesh, all the ICC affiliated countries have played ODI matches in Guwahati since 1983. Till date ACA has organized as many as 13 ODI matches.
As the years rolled on, Niloy Dutta and the writer of this column became all India panel umpires under the BCCI.
Lala Amarnath, the legendary figure of Indian cricket, Col. Hemu Adhikari, Eribara of Hyderabad, PS Parmer of Bengal came to Assam on coaching assignments. Cricket is a very costly game, it has gained tremendous popularity throughout nook and corner of the state and one can see more one-day cricket to the delight of the fans. Presently, Gautam Roy has shown keen interest for the development of cricket in this part of the country. At the moment ACA is in the peak of glory mainly due to Bikash Baruah’s initiative. A cricket academy is being set up under the banner of Assam Cricket Association in Guwahati and legendary cricketer Kapil Dev had inaugurated it in 2007. Rajesh Bora is associated with the academy as the chief coach.
Celebration of Diamond Jubilee is always welcomed. The present and past players and the cricket buffs of the State will enjoy the celebrations with their heart content. Let us hope, the ACA will prosper by leaps and bounds and the coming years will bring more accolades to our State in the cricket scenario.
(The writer is a former International Cricket Umpire) ASSAM TRIBUNE