On normal days, Ashraf Chaudhury would have been one of the busiest men around Wankhede Stadium, probably sitting near the dressing room staircase chiseling important bats of the members of the Mumbai Indians squad. But a series of health issues has confined the bat maker to a bed in a suburban Mumbai hospital amid his financial crisis.
Ashraf, the owner of a small shop M Ashraf Bros, opposite Metro Cinema in Mumbai, has been a common name around the Wankhede area and among cricketing stars. Be it India's Sachin Tendulkar and Virat Kohli or Australia’s Steve Smith, South Africa’s Faf du Plessis, West Indies’s Chris Gayle and Kieron Pollard, all have had their bats tinkered by Ashraf.
However, health issues ranging from kidney stones to other ailments have left Ashraf confined to a hospital bed with a lack of funds.
He is now being helped by well-wisher Prashant Jethmalani who has been raising funds for his treatment.
“His situation is not good. There was some kidney stone-related problem, which has resurfaced again and there are other complications too. The lockdown means his business took a major hit as cricket has completely come to standstill in the city. He doesn’t have funds; whatever he has, it’s over,” Jethmalani told the Indian Express.
“We managed around two lakhs but we need more. We also want to raise some funds for him for his sustenance in the near future,” he adds.
Back in 2016, Ashraf had donated 16 bats to the West Indies cricket team ahead of a T20 World Cup game in Mumbai after learning that the players faced financial problems following a tussle with their cricket board. There were even times when he mended bats for cricketers without charging any money. But COVID-19 situation has financially hurt Ashraf. And things turned worse when he lost his elder brother two months back.
“Nobody is asking for bats these days and with IPL happening abroad, there will be no work for Ashraf. Sad part is that many players owe him money but they haven’t paid him yet. Ashraf to date has never asked money from them,” Jethmalani said.
Jethmalani now expects cricketers to come to Ashraf's aid.