“A couple of years back the Indian National selectors did not even know that Jammu and Kashmir had a cricket team”

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It was after five decades that Jammu and Kashmir Ranji team reached quarter finals of the trophy. Captain Parvez Rasool tells Suhail A Shah that it is their passion for the game that keeps them going despite  official neglect back home

Parvez-RasoolKashmir Life (KL): Congratulations to you and your team for achieving what seems like an impossible feat?

Parvez Rasool (PR): Allah has been very kind to us. Everybody in the team has been performing his heart out. Hopefully we can cash on the momentum and go forward in the series. The mood in the dressing room is friendly and confidence is soaring high. Hopefully we can achieve more.

KL: How important was reaching this stage for the team?

PR: On the night before the final day of the match with Tripura, the whole team sat around with a calculator to calculate the runs we needed to score to get into the Quarter finals. We did not want to let the hard work done so far go in vain. This has been a real confidence booster.

KL: How difficult has been the way forward given the state of the game in Jammu and Kashmir?

PR: The state of the game and the infrastructure in our state is not a secret. Compared to the rest of the states we do not have even 10 per cent of the infrastructure they have. Honestly with such scarce resources we have in Kashmir, even competing at this level is a feat. Performing despite all the odds is a commendable effort by the team. This shows the love of our team for the game and the hunger to excel.

KL: What has changed in the Jammu and Kashmir Ranji team overnight?

PR: We have been performing well in the last couple of seasons. However, I feel that my inclusion in the Indian Premier League (IPL) and the subsequent selection in the National team has been the major catalyst for the players in our team. It has instilled a belief in them that there is cricket beyond the Ranji trophy and they can be a part of it. Earlier the game for our cricketers ended at the Ranji Trophy and now they believe there is more to be achieved, more to work hard for.

KL: You have been leading from the front with 550 runs and 21 wickets. What effect did your performances have on the team?

PR: The only way a captain can earn love and respect from his teammates is by performing well. Besides, any team feels good when their captain is performing, because naturally they look up to their captain for inspiration. Moreover,  the way I have been performing is personally very satisfying.

KL: What changes are you expecting following your remarkable performance this season?

PR: Even though I am not very enthusiastic about an overnight change in the system, I do have some hopes. Besides, if we are still unable to change the state of the game in Kashmir it will be unfortunate to say the least. Next year we will be moving from pool C to a better pool B. We will be competing with cricketers who have played at the international level. It’s really important to bring about some changes and give a new lease of life to the game in our state.

KL: Your team has not received the match fee since the last season. What impact does it have on you and your team mates?

PR: We are right now playing for the passion and the love of the game. But not getting paid is not going to help in the longer run. Passions diminish with the pulls and pressures of the daily life and more so when you don’t get paid for what you do. At some point in time it seems futile to waste time and energy. The cricketers in other states are paid their dues soon as the match is over while as we have been waiting for more than a year now.

KL: Is this performance by the team going to be a leeway into bigger things for Kashmiri cricketers?

PR: Indeed! There have been some fabulous performances by most of the players, including Samiullah Beigh, Adil Reshi and others. I sincerely believe some of the players might get a call up for the upcoming IPL. Besides, the Indian National selectors have been keeping an eye on our performance. The presence of the Chief selector, Sanjiv Patil, throughout the four days of our match against Tripura speaks volumes about our achievements. A couple of years back the Indian National selectors did not even know that Jammu and Kashmir had a cricket team.

KL: All the best for the Semis.

PR: Thank you. Prayers of our people are all we are going to need.

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