While the recent selection of J&K players, specially in recently concluded Indian Premier League (IPL), have driven an igniting spark among the cricketers in Jammu and Kashmir, Rising Kashmir’s Special Correspondent Jahangir Sofi spoke to few aspiring cricketers of the valley to get their first-hand reaction and a brief response over the developments in cricket from star cricketer of the valley and Indian cricket team member Parvez Rasool.
With so much cricketing skill, the Jammu and Kashmir cricketers have been making their presence felt on the local circuit for quite some time. Over the past few years cricketers from J&K have been making advances on larger platforms, particularly since the emergence of the Indian Premier League (IPL).
The recent selection of J&K speed phenom Umran Malik for India's 'A' squad for a tour of South Africa has given the valley cricketers renewed optimism. Despite the cold, cricket fans in the valley make their way to the cricket grounds with the hopes of reaching the larger platforms.
The appearance of players like Parvez Rasool, Mithun Manhas, Abdul Samad, Manzoor Pandow and many cricketers from J&K has driven a hope and enthusiasm among the cricket lovers in the valley.
International Cricketer Parvez Rasool while speaking to Rising Kashmir says despite the lack of sports infrastructure in the valley, the cricketers are making it to the larger platforms which according to him is a positive sign.
“Things have changed now, if someone has talent, he/she will make it to the bigger screens. The recent selection of Umran Malik is an example as the boy possessing a great talent and bowling at a speed of 150 KPH is not an easy thing”, he said.
Among the few who dream of making their cricketing appearance on a bigger platform is Mujeeb-ul-Haq from Gotapora area of Narbal in central Kashmir’s Budgam district who dreams to play in IPL and Indian national cricket team.
Haq, pursuing his Bachelor of Arts degree from University of Kashmir, said that he started playing cricket from class 5 and at a later stage of his ongoing cricket career he played under 14 in 2013, under 16 in 2016 and under 19 in 2017 tournaments organized by the BCCI.
“I want to become a professional cricketer, and with the selection of the cricket players from Jammu and Kashmir at different levels over the past few years has given me hope of making it someday”, he said.
Haq, however says that if the sports infrastructure in the valley can be enhanced even upto 50 percent of what is outside the valley, will prove helpful to the cricketers.
“There should be cricket academies, Turf wickets and more importantly a mentor who will train a cricketer”, he added.
Tariq Ahmad Sofi a senior cricketer and analyst said that there is a tremendous cricketing talent in J&K.
According to the Sofi, those who are making it to the bigger cricketing platforms is their own effort and hard work, however the support and training needed for the cricketers is missing.
While Sofi believes that the selection of J&K cricketers over the past few years is just a beginning, he says that J&K is rich in cricketing treasure which needs to be shaped and structured under specialized training and coaching.
The J&K’s premiere cricketer and team member of Indian National cricket team Parvez Rasool says, if the cricket sporting infrastructure is enhanced in the valley, more and more youth can get opportunities. “With no proper coaching and training around the valley, youth are still trying to make it and proving their cricketing talent,” he says.
Rasool further said that it is a pride moment for all of us when we see our local favorite stars performing and representing a team on television screens and that drives a motivation among the aspiring cricketers.
“There is a cricket craze in Jammu and Kashmir and I don’t think the amount of cricket which is played here, is played anywhere in India. One should really appreciate the cricketers from the valley who despite minimal facilities make it to a bigger platform”, Rasool added.
Establishing his footprints in the domestic cricketing arena, Waseem Bashir from south Kashmir’s Pahalgam area of district Anantnag is currently a member of under 25 cricket team from Jammu and Kashmir. He said the selection of J&K cricketers over the past few years have driven a hope and inspiration for the valley cricketers.
“One thinks if they made it to a bigger screen with their hard work and dedication, why can’t others”, he said.
Bashir however, believes that the lack of sporting facilities in the valley is something which needs to be filled so that the cricketers in the valley don’t fall short of the training and coaching when they join outside cricket camps.
On being asked where he would like to see himself in future as a cricketer, Bashir said he wants to see himself playing in IPL and for the national team.
“It is a dream of every cricketer to play in IPL and International cricket, and this is what I am aiming for”, he said.
Pertinent to mention that the former India all-rounder Yusuf Pathan visited the valley and met around 50 budding cricketers from Kupwara Handwara, Bandipora and adjoining districts as part of a workshop that was held in Srinagar.
During his stay in the valley Pathan said that there is a lot of cricketing talent in Jammu and Kashmir and the youngsters need proper guidance and direction.
Notably, BCCI, earlier this year in the month of June formed a sub-committee to look into the functioning of Jammu and Kashmir Cricket Association (JKCA), in accordance with a court judgement. The BCCI formed a three-member sub-committee, comprising former Ranji cricketer Mithun Manhas, to handle the day-to-day functioning of the JKCA.
The committees were formed after the Jammu and Kashmir High Court on April 23 directed the BCCI to take up the cricketing affairs of the JKCA due to mismanagement in the functioning of the state body.
"The sub-committee will look into day to day functioning of JKCA and shall at all times work under the supervision and control of the committee," BCCI secretary stated in a release.