MUMBAI: Former India skipper Dilip Vengsarkar has requested the Maharashtra government to allow outdoor sports to resume in order to improve the physical and mental well-being of citizens.
Sports such as cricket, football and hockey have been barred since the Covid-19 pandemic struck the country in March.
“The last ball in Mumbai’s local cricket was possibly bowled almost seven months ago. The pandemic has taken its toll not only on the day-today life, with schools, colleges and all other extra-curricular activities being completely shut, but also on sport activities,” Vengsarkar told TOI.
“As a result, several club and office sportspersons will struggle for their livelihood. The government must think about them. If something isn’t done soon, they will start quitting sports,” said the 116-Test veteran.
He said, “In any case, people are playing cricket and football on the maidans, parks and roads. Won’t it be a good idea that the government allows resumption of these outdoor sports with SOPs (standard operating procedure)?”
The 64-year-old recalled that in his playing days, even a small gap between the end of the season, marked by the first Ranji Trophy/Times Shield final and the next game, the opening match of the Kanga League, used to leave cricketers craving for cricketing action to begin again.
“During my playing days, the Ranji Trophy or Times Shield final would get over in the month of May, and we had to wait for the next game of cricket (Kanga League) for almost six weeks. Those six weeks were never-ending for us as we were so eager to resume cricketing again. It is unimaginable that local cricket hasn’t taken place for more than seven months, and to make it worse, it is still uncertain when it would all start,” he said.
Vengsarkar, who has the rare distinction of scoring three hundreds at Lord’s, said in the absence of physical activity, citizens were likely to slip into depression too.
“At present, malls, restaurants, salons, and transport have opened up. Cinemas would open up soon. In that case, why not allow outdoor sporting activities? For the past seven months, people have been cooped up in their homes,” said Vengsarkar.