A Change Agent

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It has been a dream come true for a young cricketer from south Kashmir’s Bijbehara whose persistent efforts and sheer hard-work has made him a role model not only for the cricketing fraternity in his town but across the Kashmir Valley, Suhail A Shah reports.

Not so long ago, the cricketing circles of Bijbehara were abuzz with praises for a talented young boy who, at the age of 13, tackled every formidable bowling line up in the local circles with grace and ease that only immense talent can bring to you.“Parvez is going to make it big one day,” a very seasoned local cricketer had once said after watching Parvez Rasool bat.

A decade later, the local as well as the Indian media has joined the chorus after Parvez, almost singlehandedly, led the Jammu and Kashmir team to an emphatic victory in a Ranji Trophy match.

He managed to score a top score of 67 for his side in the first innings of the match against Assam and an unbeaten 120 off 106 balls in the second, with 7 wickets against his name too. “The performance I have been able to deliver is really humbling. It can only make one want to perform even better in the next match,” 23-year-old Parvez told Kashmir Life over phone from Kerala, where J&K is scheduled to play its next match.

The win, Parvez says, is important for the team and will boost the morale of the whole team after the recent controversy between some senior players from Kashmir and the JKCA. “I am making sure that the attention my performances has been able to generate doesn’t get to my head,” he said.

This is not the first time that Parvez has been in the limelight. In Nov 2009, Rasool was detained by police in Bengaluru in the backdrop of an attack at the Chinnaswamy stadium- where the J&K team was staying – for allegedly carrying explosives in his bag.

However, the forensic reports cleared him and there has been no looking back since. “Whatever happened was unfortunate to say the least but that episode made me stronger,” says Parvez.

Coming from a very humble background, Parvez had to climb the ladder of success with a lot of dedication and hard work. The only source of income in the family, his father Ghulam Rasool Zargar, worked in the Mechanical Department on a contract basis.

A cricket enthusiast himself and a player in his younger days, Parvez’s father, with his limited resources, made sure that all his three sons get whatever he was not able to manage for himself. “He has been the greatest support of all. If it was not for my father’s unconditional support, I could not have even dreamt of being a cricketer,” an emotional Parvez adds.

“I have let my sons play cricket because I believe sports bring discipline to one’s life and they have not let me down. Parvez gets the due reward for his unflinching hardwork,” said his father. Parvez too has not let his father down. His hardwork has earned him due respect He has played for the J&K team at Under-14, Under 17, Under-19 and Under-22 levels. Moreover, Parvez has been part of the North Zone team twice for the Deodhar Trophy.

“I never knew that I will become a professional cricketer one day. But as I kept playing and working hard, things automatically followed,” said Parvez, who was also picked up by IPL’s Kolkata Knight Riders for their coaching camp for youngsters.

Parvez has been conducting free coaching sessions for at least 30 younger cricketers of the town as well as its peripheries. “Not only does he coach us but he also helps some of the kids from poor families. He provides these kids with shoes, bats and other cricketing equipment,” says one of the cricket enthusiasts who attends his coaching session.

The younger players say that his coaching sessions have helped them a great deal and have kept them at bay from the many problems the younger generation is facing these days “We have become so involved in cricket that we never get time to think about any other things like smoking or for that matter drugs,” said Imtiyaz, a 17-year-old cricketer from Bijbehara.

A humble Parvez, however, says he was not doing anything great for these kids, “The cricket infrastructure in our state is not as good as other states and I’m just trying to share my experience of looking beyond the hurdles with the younger ones,” says Parvez.

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