By T S Sudhir
Old is not gold. Atleast not in Hyderabad cricket. At best, it is 37 per cent gold.
So say scientists at the National Geophysical Research Institute (NGRI) after testing the Moin-ud-Dowlah Gold Cup to check if it is indeed made of gold. The report submitted to the Hyderabad Cricket Association stumped the latter.
The report said only 37 per cent of the Cup was gold, 36 per cent is silver and rest of it copper. The estimated material worth of the Cup is 90000 rupees, not even the 2.77 lakh rupees it was valued at in November 1988. At today’s gold prices, the 1.97 kg cup should have been worth several lakh rupees.
For quite some time now, there have been rumours that the Moin-ud-Dowlah Gold cup is not the original, but a fake. The report suggests that someone has replaced the original with a gold-plated duplicate.
Hyderabad cricket is already down in the dumps, having recently been bowled out for 21 runs against Rajasthan, the lowest score ever in the history of Ranji Trophy cricket. Now news that it has been peddling a Cup that is possibly fake, makes it even more embarrassing.
The Moin-ud-Dowlah Gold Cup is the oldest cricket tournament in India, dating back to 1931. It was started by Nawab Moin-ud-Dowlah, a lover of the game. In fact, so passionate he was about the game that he invited every foreign team that visited India in the 1930s to come and play in Hyderabad. He even had a cricket ground prepared at his palace in Saroornagar and he used to watch the matches from the verandah of his palace. At the age of 51, he died while watching a cricket match.
The first Gold Cup presented by the Nawab was worth 4000 rupees. The Maharajkumar of Vizianagaram’s team, the Vizianagaram XI won the Cup in January 1931 and refused to give it back. The Nawab then gave a second Cup, more expensive than the first at 7000 rupees.
This Gold Cup is brought out for the four days of the Moin-ud-Dowlah finals every year by HCA officials under police escort, after which it is put back in the vault of the State Bank of Hyderabad. For the purpose of giving to the team, a similar Cup, gold plated, is made at a shop in the Old city of Hyderabad for 70000 rupees. Members of the HCA suspect that what could have possibly happened is that some year, some insider would have got two fake Cups made and instead of putting the original Cup back in the safety vault, put the fake Cup inside.
P R Mansingh, who was secretary in 1988 when the last valuation of the Gold Cup was done, says it hurts the sentiments of every Hyderabad cricket lover. “It is an antique piece. Our emotions are involved with the Cup. It is much more than the value of the gold in the Cup.”
“But how do we know when the swap, if it did happen, took place,” wonders Arshad Ayub, former India cricketer and now president of the HCA. “We are trying to see if there is any agency that can determine the age of this particular Cup and that would help us pinpoint the time or the year when this swap possibly happened.”
Informal enquiries with the Nawab’s family have revealed that it was a gold Cup and not a gold-plated Cup that was donated by the noble. That has left Hyderabad cricket squirming. The team that once boasted of players like M L Jaisimha and Ghulam Ahmed, today is neither gold nor glittering.
As HCA officials wonder Howzatt, the wicket at the Rajiv Gandhi cricket stadium at Uppal is going to be dug up soon. But no, I have confirmed it is not an attempt to search for the missing Gold Cup !
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