The proposal to build a memorial of Bal Thackeray, who passed away on Saturday, at Shivaji Park has taken Mumbai’s cricketing fraternity by surprise. Their primary concern is whether the memorial will prove to be a hindrance to cricketing activities at Shivaji Park which has been the crucible of Mumbai cricket for years.
A former Mumbai selector feels if the memorial is built near Shivaji’s statue, it will not be an impediment at all. Praveen Barve, chairperson of the MIG Cricket Club, agrees. “There is a temple and a statue there and they have never affected matches,” he said. “Uddhav and Aditya (Thackeray) are wise enough to ensure that cricketing activities are not disrupted. And Balasaheb himself loved the sport.”
“We haven’t been informed about the memorial, so it wouldn’t be fair to comment. It is the BMC’s decision. Uddhav and Aditya are avid cricket fans and members of the MCA. They will ensure that Mumbai cricket is taken care of,” Dr PV Shetty, MCA joint secretary, told DNA.
Aditya, Thackeray’s grandson, is associated with the Wellington Cricket Club.
Some former and present Mumbai cricketers refused to comment on the issue, fearing retaliation. “There is no clarity on what the dimension of the memorial could be and where it is likely to be placed. We’ll have to wait,” said a Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) official on condition of anonymity. However, the general feeling is that the Shiv Sena won’t allow the game to suffer.
Over 50 club tournaments organised by the MCA and office leagues are played across Azad Maidan, Cross Maidan and Shivaji Park.