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I am a broken man: Prasanna

Faisal Shariff | September 25, 2003 11:56 IST

We take pride in the fact that Erapalli Anantrao Srinivas Prasanna, arguably the world's best off-spinner ever, is an Indian.

We take pride that his guile and loop made the best batsmen in the world look like imbeciles at the crease.

Yet, most of us are unaware about the condition that our hero lives in today.

Prasanna, 63, who lives in Bangalore, is a bitter man.

"These are needy days. Despite being a cricketer, I have no money to run the house," he says.

Erapalli Anantrao Srinivas Prasanna"Cricket is all I know, all I concentrated on. Today, I cannot pursue my engineering career because I did not spend time on it earlier."

Still to be allotted a benefit game by the Board of Control for Cricket in India, Prasanna is today a prisoner of his image in society.

"I have a social obligation. I have to conduct myself in public with grace. But this is all hollow. I am a broken man today," he moans.

His attempts at making a living from cricket fell flat when his employer forced him to shut down his cricket academy.

"I cannot live like a haggard. This is a false front to the public. They see my home and think I am well off, but it is my false side."

The Karnataka State Cricket Association blames him of talking money before discussing his role at the academy.

"Why shouldn't I ask for money? When I work at the academy I give my 200 per cent. If there is so much talk of professionalism, why only pick on me when I ask for money?" he argues.

"I cannot go to the NCA [National Cricket Academy] and fall on my knees asking for work. If consultants are paid, why not me?"

He expresses anguish about the way people speak about him.

"No one looked at my side of the story. Am I a bad man just because I ask for money? I am asking for it over the table, not under it."

Prasanna revealed he had offered his services to his former Karnataka team-mate Brijesh Patel, to the KSCA, but received no response.

"I get crank calls with someone screaming 'Harbhajan Singh is a better bowler than you.' My wife is angry; the calls are very disturbing and stressful. I have never said I am better than him. So why are people harassing me?" he asks.

"Who will give me a job at this age? I need to maintain my house. For that I need money," he said.

Prasanna lives in a house allotted by the government, in Bangalore's upmarket Indiranagar area, diagonally across Rahul Dravid's home.

He has been forced to lease a part of the house to pay his bills.

The BCCI allotted benefit games to Gundappa Vishwanath, Dilip Vengsarkar, Syed Kirmani and Mohinder Amarnath, who, with due respect to their contributions to Indian cricket, are financially well off.

The only benefit game Prasanna got was when he was one of the beneficiaries of the Cricketers Benefit Fund Series in Sharjah in October 1991.

"I had to spend six lakhs (Rs 600,000) before I got a cheque of $35,000," he says.

"I recently coached 12 English players at the Cricket Club of India. They were so happy with my work that one of them, from Northamptonshire, wanted me to travel with him. But because he did not have any sponsors, he was unable to take me with him."

"I would like to work with the Indian spinners. But maybe they think I am not good enough," he adds.

Earlier this month, the BCCI forgot to issue a condolence statement when former Indian skipper G S Ramchand passed away.

Will the BCCI look beyond contracts and attend to our national heroes?

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