Early this month, State Bank of India, Kerala (formerly State Bank of Travancore) won the Thiruvananthapuram District A division cricket league title for an unprecedented 38th time.
However, the celebrations were muted, especially as it had to work harder to win the title this season. The players are a worried lot as the team faces an uncertain future.
When SBT merged with SBI last year, there were apprehensions regarding the future of its iconic football and cricket teams, which were once the pride of Kerala.
The SBT cricket team over the years had provided employment to more than 100 Ranji Trophy players. The SBT cricket team at the time of the merger had just won an all-India public sector tournament .
The SBI cricket team is still making its presence felt in State level tournaments and five players from the team were called to the senior team camp this season.
The football team, as SBT, figured in the National league twice and is the main avenue for employment for scores of Santosh Trophy players.
There were five players from SBI in the Kerala team which won the Santosh Trophy National football championships early this year.
However, the legacy of goodwill which the teams commanded among sports lovers seems to have been lost in the aftermath of the merger. Post merger, the SBI management has not shown any interest in promoting the teams and, more importantly, has put recruitment in cold storage.
Both teams were on the verge of recruiting new players when the merger took place and it was put off for the time being. But even a year after the merger, the management has not taken any decision on fresh recruitment.
Now both teams lack bench strength and the recent poor performance of the football team in the KPL was due to a spate of injuries to key players and lack of competent replacements.
The junior football team, which was the feeder unit for the seniors, has been disbanded due to lack of funds.
The cricket team is an ageing side with a couple of players on the wrong side of 40. The cricketers were asked to report for daily duty by the management, but following intervention from various quarters, the order was suspended.
With the management keeping silent on recruitment, the players have resigned themselves to their fate and are hopeful that some clarity will emerge in the coming days.
Or else, observers feel, it would be the end of the road for both the teams.
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