Ashrafchacha from M.Ashraf Bros – a Veteran Bat Repairer whose family Business has Witnessed 10 decades of Mumbai Cricket
Cricket is often considered the richest and most popular sport in India. No wonder the cricketers representing India enjoy a great amount of recognition and fame across the world. However, there are often many people connected with cricket who often go under rated & unnoticed. One such personality who has seen almost 4 generations of cricketers in the maidans of Mumbai 7 continues to work in the same profession since decades is Bat Repairer Ashrafbhai.
Ashraf Chacha’s family has been in this profession since almost a century with his shop M Ashraf Bros being into existence since 1920 which means Ashrafbhai’s father, followed by his elder brother to Ashrafbhai now all together having witnessed over 10 decades of cricket reparing bats of cricketing stars spanning multiple generations. Running this family business of bat repairiing since 1920, Ashrafbhai has repaired bats for the likes of Sunil Gavaskar to Dilip Vengsarkar to Sachin Tendulkar to Virat Kohli to Steve Smith to Pollard to Chris Gayle to name a prominent few. Almost all prominent top division to Ranji level Cricketers have repaired or customized their bats atleast once with Ashrafbhai.
Right opposite Metro Cinemas near to Wankhede Stadium, Ashrafbhai with a kitbag on his shoulders filled with bats and bat grips has remained a constant presence since decades. Ashrafbhai is a Master when it comes to fixing broken bats, remaking them, shaving off wood to reduce weight or trimming the handle edges as per the demands of the hard-to-please batters! His fabled tales of generosity is quite popular amongst the cricketers as well. When the Windies cricket team were in a turmoil with their cricket board over player contracts, it was Ashrafbhai who supplied the team with 16 bats without taking a single penny in return. Over the years, Ashrafbhai has repaired bats for many players and he has not charged many of them till date.
During COVID, Ashrafbhai went through a difficult phase, with all maidans being shut and IPL being held abroad, the small shop of Ashrafbhai witnessed no business. Above that, Ashrafbhai was also affected with a Kidney infection and other ailments making things difficult. The employees of his small shop returned back to their villages while Ashrafbhai with no business around was certainly in the need of some financial help to overcome his health condition. To add more woes to his stress, during that difficult time, Ashraf Chacha also lost his elder brother who used to be the support system working together with him.
Leaving such a rich legacy and working for so many decades for en-number of cricketers, Ashrafbhai still did not ask for money from any of the cricketers even from those whom he helped or from those whose payment was due. However, Good things happen to those who do good and Ashrafbhai through his close friend Prashant Jethmalani could make a fitting comeback soon.
Prashant Jethmalani who has been in touch with him for more than 15years managed to raise over 2 lakhs for him while the God of Cricket Sachin Tendulkar also came forward to Ashrafbhai’s rescue taking care of expenses to ensure he gets treated. Apart from Sachin, even Sonu Sood came forward and contributed towards Ashrafbhai’s treatment.
With Covid now almost over and Maidans resuming cricket, there seems to be light at the end of the tunnel for Ashrafbhai as well who has now recovered from his health & aims to start working back in full flow. Like Ashrafbhai, there are many such people from the support staff connected to the field of cricket and sports whose contributions to the game often go unnoticed. Cricketgraph wishes Ashrafchacha the best of health and stay tuned as we envisage to cover more and more such stories across grassroot cricket.