The question of age factor in competitive games of U-14, U-19 and U-22 is raising troubles to cricketers in general and other sports competitions as well at the highest level. Manjot Kalra entered record books by scoring an unbeaten hundred in the final of the Under-19 World cup but his troubles are not far from over, in an over age case filed against him. Despite the superlative show in summit clash, age fraud case against him lingers on and brought disrepute to Indian Cricket as well. The matter has not watered down as the investigation is till been on. But Manjot has certainly managed to divert attention from this controversial issue to with an unbeaten 100. But the troubles are not far from over and the investigation may come up again after his arrival from Bay Oval, New Zealand. This is in bad taste. You can be a winner but by following tainted methods one should not look for fame all the time.
Forging and providing wrong date of birth is not a crime but a fraud to get an additional advantage. It can be considered forgery and cheating as the chance of one eligible player has gone to an over age player. In the sporting world in India such things considered minor things and overlooked. The advantage gained by a team having a matured player against a young one is really advantageous. In North India, it is a very common thing and there is no proper check of the age at the school level or at the time of team selection. Just like bowlers resorting to chucking but still escape the eyes of match officials in a game of Cricket. By the time the illegal action is traced and found, the bowler must have reaped rich harvest of wickets and must have got the national level also.
Similarly, cricketers are battling allegations of age fraud and that goes a long way in deciding the future of Indian cricketers. It is quite imperative to check age at all levels to have a free and fair selection at the highest level. The age certificate is manipulated to make his way for U-19 selection for example. But if found at a later stage about the age fraud controversy and the undue advantage taken by selecting a senior player, the prestige and the decorum of the game will go for a toss.
The age fraud is very common in Delhi side and it is done in open. I still remember a case when a progress card was burnt in a fire and the age record of a player was lost. When the parents submitted the details of the student in late 1960s, the age was manipulated and shown two years less, allowing the said cricketer to play two more additional years Under-19 Cricket. This set a bad example and other schools and parents resort such methods to gain a couple of extra time as a junior cricketer. This has become a part and parcel of present Cricket curriculum in schools. How long one can cheat the eyes of law and then survive as well?
This is a matter of great concern. Not a single independent investigation gives a clean chit in case of age matters. The transfer from one school to another is done on the basis of cricketing talent of the student and the age factor is totally ignored and manipulated if the same was to be proved at the highest level. At the time of transfer, documentary evidence about the age is submitted as a cover up and hence it is questionable. In case of Manjot, it is with Delhi Police and it is deplorable. The records available with the school are found confusing and contradictory. It is clear that the original date of birth used for admission is onerous. Age fudging in competitive Cricket in India presents a bad picture and it is an age old fraud to gain advantage and a chance to play for longer duration under a particular age limit. From here on, there is should be a perfect proof before the team selection for various categories in competitive games to avoid undue advantage and cause a doubt in the minds of law enforcing authorities.
(The views expressed by the author in the article are his/her own.)