The Delhi and District Cricket Association on Thursday renamed the Feroz Shah Kotla as Arun Jaitley stadium in memory of the late politician-cum-sports-administrator.
Home Minister Amit Shah digitally inaugurated the renamed Arun Jaitley Cricket Stadium in presence of late finance minister’s family. DDCA also unveiled a stand at the Feroz Shah Kotla after skipper Virat Kohli, who recently became the most successful India captain in Test cricket, surpassing MS Dhoni.
“It was in 2001 (2000) during a match against Zimbabwe, my childhood coach Rajkumar Sharma gave me two tickets,” Kohli said.
“I remember clinging to the gallery grill asking for Javagal Srinath’s autograph. I was telling my brother how far we have come. So today to have a pavilion in my name at the same stadium is surreal and a great honour,” he added.
Talking about his relation with late Jaitley, Kohli said: “I told Arun Jaitley ji’s family that the world knew him differently but I have known him just as a human being. He came to my residence after my father’s death and gave me courage and strength. It’s a momentous occasion today.”
A short video and an animation film on Kohli’s journey from being an U-19 player to India captain was shown during the event, which was attended by the entire Indian cricket team and support staff.
“When I decided to name a stand in honour of Virat Kohli, I told this first to Arun Jaitley ji. He told me this is a good decision because there is no better player than Virat in world cricket,” said DDCA president Rajat Sharma.
Besides the family members of Jaitley, the event was attended by Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju, Olympian Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, Delhi BJP chief Manoj Tiwari, ex-skipper Kapil Dev and former India player Chetan Chauhan, among others.
“For Arun ji, cricket was his passion and life. He remained DDCA chief for 13 years and he played a great role in making the likes of Virat, Pant, Dhawan, Nehra, Sehwag as great players. All these players love him very much,” Sharma said.
India’s 1983 World Cup-winning captain Kapil said: “Wonderful to have a stand in name of Virat. And whatever DDCA does for Arun Jaitley is not enough given his contribution.”
Chauhan also paid tribute to Jaitley.
“Whenever we needed direction, we would help us. The biggest help he did was to rebuild the Kotla stadium. So befitting to name it in his honour,” Chauhan said.
DDCA chief Rajat Sharma also announced the setting up of two cricket academies for underprivileged kids
“Former greats like Sehwag, Nehra, and Gambhir have assured me that they will help shape career of these kids free of cost,” he said.
Sharma also announced a medical insurance cover for all current first-class cricketers.
“We will have insurance cover for all our current players,” he announced.
“Also like BCCI has a medical emergency fund for ex-players from which they give Rs 5 lakh, we are also having a fund from which we will give Rs 5 Lakh to any ex-player who faces a medical emergency,” he added.
(With PTI inputs)