Srinagar: The Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) is the world's second-largest cricket stadium, hosting numerous thrilling cricket matches. While not everyone is able to attend a match at the iconic MCG. Two friends from Marhama hamlet in Anantnag district created their own MCG- Marhama Cricket Ground with their own money in order to hone the talents of aspiring cricketers.
Marhama is 20 kms away from Anantnag district headquarters and some 50 kilometres from summer capital Srinagar.
Many Kashmiri teenagers have made it to the IPL and other national level competitions in recent years. This has inspired two pals, Amir Chirag and Khursheed Ahmad, to think outside the box.
"The goal is to offer infrastructure to local youngsters so they can compete on major platforms," Aamir explained. They believe that some of the aspiring cricketers from their town, Marhama, would make it to the Indian Premier League and perhaps represent Team India if given the right opportunity at the right time.
Amir owns cricket equipment shop. He has made a contribution of Rs 2 lakh from his earnings. Khursheed, his other companion, felt the same way. Later, several of their coworkers joined and helped put up the "turf wicket" playground.
Turf wickets are extremely rare in Kashmir, and the majority of cricket is played on synthetic mats. They purchased a pitch roller, lay the turf, and maintained the Village cricket facility.
"We paid for the pitch roller ourselves. It cost us more than Rs 7 lakh. We also installed the turf ourselves and are maintaining it," Amir Ajaz explained.
As Amir said, Marhama is the largest hamlet in the Anantnag district. "So we want to see our rural guys in the IPL and Ranji trophy," he remarked.
Khursheed Ahmad, an apple producer, has also given Rs 2 lakh to the construction of the cricket facility. Khurshid, an avid cricket fan, stated that they aim to keep the youngsters in the neighbourhood physically and intellectually healthy.
In addition to refining the talents of aspiring cricketers, organising competitions in the community is an attempt to combat the area's drug problem.
For young cricketers, the initiative has given wings to their dreams. According to SajadAhamd, a turf wicket in his village ground is a dream come true.
With a small signboard on display that reads “No to drugs…and yes to play”, the newly built cricket ground is all set and has become a main crowd puller in these chilling winters bringing warmth to the people.
With this they went on to organise the first of its kind “Marhama Premier League” which has attracted 64 teams from the neighbouring areas. Even teams from other districts like Kulgam, Pulwama and Shopian have participated in the league.
The league was inaugurated by famous J&K cricketer Parvez Rasool, who has figured in both IPL and national team of India.