During the late seventies, cricketing facilities in South Mumbai were inadequate. Cricket was more prominent in Shivaji park at Dadar and Matunga where clubs such as Shivaji Park Gymkhana, Dadar Union, etc were prominent. In South Mumbai, club cricket was almost non-existent. Some of the South Mumbai clubs were in B Group or had moved from A to B Group. National Club was in B Group, M. B. Union Club and Fort Vijay Club had moved from A Group to B Group. So at that time, it was felt that a cricket net should be started in South Mumbai. Well-known Hindi film Producer and Director, late Shri. Manmohan Desai played a pivotal role in facilitating this idea.
Union High School did not have a good cricket team. So we got some boys from Girgaum area and built a cricket team. We used to reach the semi finals of inter school Harris Shield and Giles Shield tournament. At the same time, while playing tennis ball cricket I came in contact with Shri Manmohan Desai who was staying nearby and he started coming to the ground. I started discussing cricket with him. He thought that I could be a good cricket coach. He asked me to start coaching the game and showed willingness to help me. My first net was started in Robert Money High School in Grant Road and it required funding of Rs. 25000/-. This money was conferred by Shri Manmohan Desai. With this money, a mat was laid, cricketing material was purchased and the first net of Paradkar’s Cricket Academy was launched in 1978. Players such as Pravin Korgaonkar and Deepak Jadhav were there along with me. Slowly boys from South Mumbai started enrolling for our cricket coaching.
Around 1982, ex-Indian cricketer Shri Sudhir Naik visited Robert Money nets as a Chief Guest for a function. Within no time, he realized that the nets were managed systematically. When he saw the boys, he realized that many of them were from South Mumbai and were coming to Robert Money nets for training. He proposed to shift the nets from Robert Money to National Cricket Club at Cross Maidan as it would benefit both, the boys as well as the club. Shri Paradkar accepted this proposal and shifted his nets to National Cricket Club. The outfield at Robert Money was in a dire state. It was uneven and full of stones. As a result the ball bounced unpredictably and got damaged very quickly. On the contrary, the nets and outfield at National Cricket Club was well maintained. The boys got an opportunity to play on lush green outfield. The wickets too were well maintained and so the number of injuries to the boys reduced considerably.
Yet, the most important thing for the boys was that they got a chance to play for a club. Along with me, the players who moved from Robert Money to National Cricket Academy were Sunil More, Jaiprakash Jadhav, Sameer Dighe, Shekhar Bhor, to name a select few. All these players got a good ground to practice, a good source and a good club in the form of National Cricket Club. At that time, National Cricket Club was in B Group. Within one year we moved to A Group and from there on it was very difficult for the opponents to unsettle us. Shekhar Bhor played for Mumbai University. Bhimesh Shah was another player who did well. All these boys practiced under my guidance and some of them went on to play Ranji Trophy. I got the base in South Mumbai which helped all these players. I was with National Cricket Club till 2003 and till then atleast 15 to 20 players played at the State Level. National Cricket Club progressed well and started winning all the tournaments and the players were also benefitted as they got a good platform. Players like Amit Dani, Manish Patel, Rajesh Sutar, Rajesh Pawar, Nilesh Kulkarni who represented National Cricket Club later played for the Mumbai team.
During the 90’s, I came in contact with Mr. Vasant Amladi and it was a turning point in my career. I have not seen a Cricket Coach like him. I got very valuable guidance from him. Whatever I taught from 1982 to 1990 was from my experience and my readings. However when I did a Mumbai Cricket Association’s course for cricket coaches in 1990, I came in contact with Shri Vasant Amladi and this association transformed me completely.
I got to learn from him so many things which I was not knowing even when I was a player. If I had known these things, I would have easily played first class cricket. I started learning from him and slowly improved my coaching skills. It was like an advanced level or next level of cricket coaching for me. The first raw boy who came to me after I improved my skills was Zaheer Khan.
Players like Sameer Dighe, Shekhar Bhor, Sunil More, Gaikwad, Ingle went on to play cricket at a higher level. After I joined National Cricket Club in 1982, it went on progressing and for almost 6 years we were Kanga League champions. Other tournaments like Talim Shield, Police Shield, Talyar Khan Shield too were won by National Cricket Club. Players like Rajesh Pawar, Rajesh Sutar, Sunil More, Nilesh Kulkarni, Amit Dani, Wasim Jaffer were all trained at National Cricket Club. Some of them played for Mumbai and some of them played for India. In 1996, In 1998, Rajesh Pawar got a place in Team India for the Under 19 World Cup.
In 1994, I got an offer to coach the team of Orient Shipping Agency. At that time they were in the Group D of the Times Shield. I started their practice. Here I coached Santosh Saxena who played for Mumbai within 2 years of my coaching. By 1997, the team progressed to Group A, and remained there till 2003. Players like Abey Kuruvilla, Sushant Manjrekar, Nitin Tamhane, Avishkar Salvi, Vishal Tawde, Pravin Tambe went on to play first class cricket. They all had started from Orient Shipping Agency and I was their coach for almost eight years. Around 2003 Orient Shipping Agency closed down.
Later, I joined Police Gymkhana. Their team was in the Group B of Times Shield. The same year of my joining, they too got elevated to Group A and remained for almost 5 years. Player like Suresh Bhorful from Police Gymkhana played for Maharashtra as well as for West Zone. In addition, Santosh Shinde played for Mumbai.
After that I joined Jain Irrigation. Even their team succeeded from Group B to Group A of Times Shield. I was with Jain Irrigation till 2012. At present, I am coaching the team of Shinray Toyota Company. They are currently in Group D. Their CEO Mr. Dua Aslamkar is giving a lot of support. New players will also be taken. I want to take that team into Group A in another 3 – 4 years.
There are many women cricketers who come to our Academy for practice. Since these women also play with the men, it helps them to improve their skills. India’s Wicketkeeper and opening batswomen Sulakshana Naik too comes to our academy for practice. Similarly, Hemali Borwankar who plays for Mumbai under 19 team and Snehal Pradhan come to our academy for practice. They get a chance to play on good wickets and other male students which help them to improve their skills. Once I saw a girl who was selling clothes in a very small roadside shed on Fashion Street next to Cross Maidan.
Since she was keen to learn the game, I taught her bowling and batting and later she went on to play for Mumbai. When she was selected for Mumbai, she was to travel by plane for the first time. She did not have a bat. I requested Shivraj Deshmukh to lend a bat. He gave 2 pairs of bat and gloves to her and she was able to carry her equipment for the match. There is a good scope for women to represent Mumbai. Mumbai Cricket Association also conducts free coaching for women during summer. Women are not charged any fees by the Academy.
In the past, cricket was mostly dependent on the coaches and in Mumbai there were many NIS coaches which helped Mumbai Cricket in many ways than one. However, with the advancements in telecom, players can learn the game simply by watching the matches on television. Players are able to learn by observing international players. Similarly, Various cricket programs and interviews of Coaches on television helped in the development of cricket. Today, Mumbai Cricket Association is doing a lot for the development of cricket in Mumbai. Almost 30 – 40 camps at various locations from Mumbai city to Virar and Boisar are conducted free for the selected players.
These camps are also started for women cricketers and it is helping them in a long way. In addition, almost 600 to 700 schools participate in the inter school tournaments such as Harris Shield and Giles Shield. This web of cricket management is helping Mumbai Cricket. Even the famous record batting partnership of 664 runs between Sachin Tendulkar and Vinod Kambli was made on Sassanian cricket ground at Azad Maidan and many people had the privilege to be present to watch it. Many successful players rose to glory after starting from these inter-school tournaments.
There are at least 9 to 10 cricketers who had scored more than 300 runs in Mumbai school cricket but of them there are very few who could become successful. I personally feel real cricketing talent of a player can be seen when he is of 19 years of age. There are many players who scored 100 runs on a consistent basis in school tournament but as they neared 19 years, they were psychologically down including fear of failure and pressure from parents, coaches and society and hence they could not achieve success as they grew up.
So I feel parents should not put any pressure on their children so that they can play fearlessly and they can progress better. Normally, cricket should be started when the child is 8 to 10 years. However, as per the current trend parents start their cricket at the age of 5 – 6 years. These boys when they come in 10 to 12 standard they stop playing cricket. The real cricket gets developed in the age between 18 to 22 years.
Zaheer Khan first put on his cricket shoes at the age of 17 years. There are many examples of players who started their cricket late and were able to survive better. So I feel if a player starts his cricket after the age of 14 – 15 years he is under less pressure and he can progress better.
Since last 3 – 4 years, coaching at Paradkar Cricket Academy is conducted in the morning at the Karnataka Cricket Ground at Cross Maidan and in the evening at Fort Vijay Ground or Parsi Zorastrian Ground at Azad Maidan. The academy resumed its mission in 2003 from Western Railway Ground at Cross Maidan. Soon, players like Parag Madkaikar, Hiken Shah, Vikrant Yelligeti were developed and some of them are currently playing Ranji Trophy. At present, budding talents like Shashank Singh (under 22) and Shivraj Deshmukh (under 22) are training rigorously for higher prospects. Shivraj has reached the list of Ranji probable.
Between the age group of 14 to 19, there are a few boys who can do well in the future and may play for Mumbai. Some of these players are Atul Singh, Akash Luthra, Salman Khan, Akash Malbari. We welcome anyone who has an ambition to play for Mumbai or beyond. He may be practicing at any other club, but if he wishes to improve his skills he is always welcome. We perform video analysis of the boys and identify the fine deficiencies in their skills and make them work hard to amend these shortcomings.
The first 20 minutes are allocated to exercise each day. Then nets are started. The boys are notified about their mistakes which they need to rectify and make them to work on it. I give importance to running between the wickets. The stamina of a boy gets judged when he is asked to take 25 to 30 runs after he has done batting in the nets. Different batting strokes are practiced. Before the nets cricketing drills and batting strokes are practiced by every student. They practice all the technical skills on which we give special attention.
The students practice target bowling and we also focus on improving their bowling action. Once all the mistakes are corrected, another video is taken to show them their improvement. A video is recorded for about 3 to 4 times in a month.