For all the glitz and glamour associated with Indian cricket, there are players who have been forced to live in abject poverty and struggle to make ends meet. Former Indian domestic cricketer and ex-Ranji star Prakash Bhagat has been forced to run a food stall in order to take care of his family. He had once bowled to Sourav Ganguly during his memorable stint at the famous National Cricket Academy (NCA), but is now fighting for survival by running a roadside stall in southern Assam’s Silchar.
Once dubbed as an exciting prospect in the domestic arena, Bhagat had raised his stocks by spearheading his stateside in various national and state-level tournaments. Bhagat also had a crack at Ranji cricket when the cricketer plied his trade with his state team during the 2009/10 and 2010/11 seasons. Bhagat represented Assam and played Ranji games against the Railways and Jammu and Kashmir teams.
According to a report filed by a news agency, the Assam cricketer is forced to sell ‘dal puri’ at a roadside stall in southern Assam’s Silchar to support his poverty-stricken family. Bhagat was a promising youngster when he was called up for month-long training in the Bengaluru-based NCA. During his NCA stint in 2003, the 34-year-old bowled to then captain Ganguly and the Assam-based cricketer also met Master Blaster Sachin Tendulkar, pace ace Zaheer Khan, spin wizard Harbhajan Singh, and legendary opener Virender Sehwag.
“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 was quoted as saying.
Bhagat is married and the ex-state cricketer is also the father of two small children. Bhagat kick started his cricket career in 1999 when he participated in the Silchar District Sports Association’s Under-13 tournament. He went on to play matches for Under-16, Under-19, and Under-23 categories at the state and national levels.
“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. 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,” he added.