One of the Kashmir’s know cricketer and present head coach of J&K team Qayoom Bagav tells Saima Bhatthat lack of proper sports infrastructure reflects on teams performance
Qayoom Bagav (QB): I am associated with sports from last 25 years now. I was in Class 9 when I started my cricket career with inter-school tournaments from my hometown Bijbehara. I was soon selected for Jammu and Kashmir under-19 team due to good performance. We lost that tournament, but I grew serious towards cricket.
After that, I was selected for Ranji Trophy team. And soon, many offers poured in. I played for Indian Airlines where I was recruited under sports quota in 1990. I was the captain of J&K Ranji team that qualified for knock-out round for the first time. And then in 2005, I was selected as a coach of state team.
KL: You have been associated with cricket for long time now, how is cricket in Kashmir different today than 10 years ago?
QB: There is a lot of difference between then and now. We had no infrastructure. It is an era of technology now. Today teams have coaches for everything, but previously we just used to have a manager, no coaches, nothing.
KL: How do you see the performance of J&K team in this year’s Ranji Trophy?
QB: Being the coach of the team, I am really happy with team’s performance. And, I feel proud that the team under my guidance qualified for the knock-out match.
Before Ranji trophy, we played a tournament for 25 days in Pune Maharashtra. It was for the first time that J&K won a cup outside the state.
KL: Parvez Rasool often mentions you, what role have you played as his mentor?
QB: He is under my guidance since he was 12-year-old. We both hail from Bijbehara. I sincerely hope that things which I couldn’t achieve in my career will be now achieved by Parvez.
KL: Don’t you think getting recognized is easier today than when you were playing?
QB: Yes. Today’s players have an edge over our generation as media is quite vibrant and supportive of sportsmen. There are corporate leagues around as well.
When I was playing, I had taken 7 wickets in a match—two or three times, but there was no coverage. Now if one takes just 3 wickets in a match, he is all over the news.
KL: How do you see the recent private leagues in Kashmir? Will it prove handy to showcase talent?
QB: I feel our good performance in Ranji trophy has been possible because of these leagues. This year we played a number of matches, which is very important for teams and players. Good atmosphere, good competitive matches were given to the players and most importantly the players from Jammu were also playing with them.
KL: How did you manage the team of diverse nature during much hyped Ranji Tournament?
QB: It is possible to have two teams: one from Jammu and another from Kashmir. But our government would never do that. The major problem is that players from Kashmir and Jammu practice at their respective places rather than in a joint camp. Players from both provinces hardly get to meet each other except ahead of Ranji tournament.
There is problem with our selection process, as it is a quota based. Kashmir and Jammu select a total of 15 players separately in a ratio of 8:7 or 9:6 which is not at all merit based. We have two set of selectors: one for Kashmir another for Jammu. They don’t communicate with each other. I strongly believe that this quota system should vanish and players should be selected on the basis of their performance irrespective of their region.
KL: It must be really challenging as a coach to manage given the kind of infrastructure we have here?
QB: Ideally, team should be formed at least two months before Ranji Trophy so that I get more time with players. As a coach, I should understand my players in a better way so that I can play them according to their strength.
KL: What exactly we lack in J&K in terms of sporting infrastructure so that our players are at par with others?
QB: There is no sporting infrastructure in J&K. Himachal Pradesh got affiliation with BCCI 20 years after Kashmir. But they have 5 grounds and proper stadiums and we only have one stadium in Kashmir, there is no stadium in Jammu. If we get facilities our team will perform better.