When Mahendra Singh Dhoni lifted the World Cup trophy recently, cricketers from Bihar suddenly recalled his association with the state.Dhoni had, after all, made his debut for Bihar in the Ranji Trophy and other tournaments much before Jharkhand was carved out of the state.The World Cup triumph brought back cascades of nostalgic memories for many players who were Dhoni’s teammates in the Bihar team. But it also brought back into focus the sorry state of cricketing affairs in the state.Dhoni’s association with Bihar in the maiden First Class cricket season of his career remains the last bright spot in the chequered history of the state’s cricket. Since his departure, cricket has been a victim of unabashed politics both at the state and the BCCI levels.Bihar has been a veritable graveyard for budding cricketers for the past 10 years ever since the BCCI derecognised the Bihar Cricket Association ( BCA) and granted affiliation to the new Jharkhand State Cricket Association ( JSCA) in 2001. Cricket in the state remains mired in political and legal battles since then.It is still baffling to know that the BCCI chose to disaffiliate a parent state body and grant affiliation to the association of a new state which had just come into being. Votaries of Bihar cricket had argued that it was against the principles of natural justice but nobody at the BCCI paid heed to them. They were told that Jharkhand had been granted full membership because all cricketing activities in undivided Bihar used to take place in the districts which had gone to Jharkhand.advertisementMoreover, the headquarters of the erstwhile BCA of 1935 was in Jamshedpur which, too, is located in Jharkhand. The representatives from Bihar had argued that they had no objection to Jharkhand getting full membership but the de- recognition of the cricketing body of the parent state was simply unjust. They also pointed out that many players in the Bihar team such as Syed Saba Karim and Sunil Kumar had come from Patna and other north Bihar districts but to no avail.The prolonged spell of uncertainty resulted in exodus of players from Bihar to other states.Players from Bihar allege that politics has dealt a blow to the state cricket. Many of them believe that the entry of Lalu Prasad as the president of the BCA after the bifurcation did more harm than good to state cricket.Incidentally, the BCCI headed by A. C. Muthaiah had recognised the Lalu- led BCA at its annual general meeting in 2001. But Muthaiah subsequently lost the BCCI president’s election to Jagmohan Dalmiya who went on to overturn his predecessor’s decision on Bihar and granted affiliation to Jharkhand. It is alleged that Dalmiya had done so because Lalu’s BCA had voted for Muthaiah in that election. It is said Dalmiya was wary of Lalu’s control over Bihar’s cricketing body. He apparently did not want any powerful politician to challenge his authority in the east zone. It is altogether a different matter that Lalu was not at all interested in the administration of Bihar cricket. He attended the BCA’s meeting only once and left it to his lieutenants to run the association.It is also said he developed a sudden interest in cricket because of his sons, who wanted to pursue careers in the sport at that time.Whatever be the reason, the BCCI decision led to more politics within state cricket. A separate cricket association headed by former Indian cricket player Kirti Azad came up to stake claim to the BCCI affiliation. A couple of other associations, too, jumped on the bandwagon to seek affiliation. The claims and counter- claims by rival associations gave the BCCI a valid reason to put Bihar’s affiliation issue on hold for years.The BCCI finally granted associate membership to the Laluled BCA in 2008 by allowing it to organise junior level matches. But that decision, too, was challenged in the court.The biggest victims of these prolonged fights among the various associations have been the state’s young cricketers. They want all the warring associations to come under one umbrella but that still seems to be a remote possibility in the near future.What Bihar cricket needs is for both Lalu and Kirti Azad to join hands for the sake of the state’s cricketers. It cannot hope to produce another Dhoni until all rival associations sink their differences.Bihar may have many a Dhoni waiting in the wings for the right opportunities to strike gold for the state.