Silchar (Assam) | Prakash Bhagat, once a leading cricketer from the state who played in different national and state-level tournaments, now runs a food stall in southern Assam’s Silchar to manage two square meals for his poverty-stricken family.
The 34-years-old left-arm slow bowler and right-handed batsman now sells ‘dal puri’ at a roadside stall at Itkhola within the Silchar Municipal Board, for the survival of his six-member family.
Bhagat said that as a member of the Assam team, he had played Ranji Trophy matches in 2009/10 and 2010/11 against the Railways and Jammu and Kashmir teams.
The former cricketer had also taken a month-long training in the Bengaluru-based National Cricket Academy (NCA) in 2003.
“During my NCA training, I bowled to Sourav Ganguly as the New Zealand-bound Indian team was practicing in the academy. That time, I got a chance to meet Sachin Tendulkar, Zaheer Khan, Harbhajan Singh, Virender Shewag and Sourav Ganguly,” said Bhagat.
“I had to leave cricket in 2011 after my father (Gajadhar Bhagat) died following a massive cardiac attack at the age of 65.
“My father and elder brother, Deepak Bhagat, used to sell ‘chaat food’ in a hand-driven cart. After my father’s death, my elder brother also remains ill,” Bhagat told IANS over phone.
Deepak is married and has two small children.
Bhagat said that if the Assam Cricket Association (ACA), or any other organisation, supports him financially, he could resume his cricketing career.
“After I left playing cricket to support my family, I joined a private mobile company but due to Covid-induced lockdown, I lost my job last year,” said Bhagat.
Bhagat’s cricketing career started in 1999 at the Silchar District Sports Association’s Under-13 tournament. He played several tournaments in the Under-16, Under-19 and Under-23 categories at the state and national level.
“My consistent performances in different lower-level matches helped me find a place in Assam’s Ranji Trophy team. I was in the squad for the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy as well,” he added.
“If I get financial support for my family, I am keen to return to the cricket field again. Many of my former teammates got government jobs or financial support from various government and non-government organisations, but I could not obtain one.”
Former Ranji Trophy player and a renowned cricket-management personality, Manimay Roy, said that due to the lack of financial support, many sportspersons in the northeastern region quit sports.
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