Kashmir’s cricket star Parvez Rasool inspired an entire generation of youngsters to dream big. But lack of infrastructure and infighting in Jammu and Kashmir Cricket Association (JKCA) is a major hindrance in realizing these dreams. He tells Umar Mukhtar that first causality of infighting is cricket itself.
Kashmir Life (KL): Test cricket is the ultimate aim of an international player. When will we see Parvez Rasool playing in that format?
Parvez Rasool (PR): Of course it is called test cricket because it is more professional and test of your abilities as a player. Right now, I am working hard and I am focusing on my performances. Since I have played in the other two formats, ODIs and T20s, I hope hard work will pay and I will play test cricket soon. I am quite optimistic.
KL: Most of the time, Jammu Kashmir Cricket Association (JKCA) remains embroiled into controversies? What exactly are those controversies and how is it affecting cricket in the state?
PR: Yes, it is true. It is not something that is hidden. There were a lot of things going on in the JKCA. There is a pattern where you have a certain number of clubs. They have their teams. But when it comes to electing the governing bodies, they have the mandate to vote. This is basically where the controversies are born. The factions, divisions, and things bad for the cricket actually do happen as a result.
Definitely, such things adversely affect cricket in the state. The statistics are in front of us. In the last 70 years of its history, how come JKCA has failed to produce anything substantial?
Talented players who could become international cricketers did not get a proper platform, because energies are wasted in solving the controversies. This ultimately takes a toll on the cricket.
KL: Have these controversies affected your growth as well?
PR: This is not only about Parvez Rasool. Such kind of bickering, lobbyism, and factions in JKCA have overall impacted players in the state. I believe there are talented cricketers in J&K who could not come up to a level because of the mismanagement.
And yes, I would have been at another level, had there been the smooth functioning of the affairs in JKCA. I played on mats with poor infrastructure. But if JKCA, rather than getting into unnecessary things had stressed on the infrastructure, maybe the results would have been better than what is at present.
KL: How poor is the cricketing infrastructure in the state?
PR: It is true that we lack proper infrastructure because of the issues I told you. We are far behind than other states when it comes to facilities for sportspersons. The most important thing we should have is a cricket academy, an indoor hall, and turf wickets. In coming times, I am hopeful we will have some of these facilities as there is work going on.
These cricket academies play an important role in shaping a player’s career. It is there they get coaching and ample time to practice. Given the unpredictable weather in J&K, these indoor academies would be of great use.
KL: It is blamed that club monopoly in JKCA has affected cricket in the state. How do you see it?
PR: It has basically restricted the flow of talent. I believe these clubs should be open to everyone so that talented youngsters come forward to participate. In Gujrat, the number of members is 1700 and we have just 30. The result is in front of you. See how Gujrat is producing a number of international level cricketers. In J&K, if a person has a club and he is also part of a powerful faction, he attracts players too. This shuttling of clubs every year has created a mess for players. They ultimately become part of politics, forgetting cricket.
KL: There were a few people who termed inclusion of cricketer Irfan Pathan in J&K team as ‘airdropped’. How do you see it?
PR: In fact, the story is entirely opposite of what people say. It is true that some players were ‘airdropped’ in J&K team. These ‘airdropped’ players have no idea about the team nor have any interaction with other players. They just come a day before the match and play. Ironically, these players are even made player cum coach cum mentor a day before the game. This disturbs the entire fabric of the team and affects performance. And these players are paid more than a crore.
But if anyone is trying to compare such players with an international star like Pathan, it is sad. Pathan’s inclusion in the team has benefited every player. When you have an international star playing on your side, you end up learning not losing.
KL: Can you tell us some of the changes that Irfan Pathan’s inclusion in the team brought?
PR: Rasik Salaam is a big example in front of you. It was Pathan who spotted him and brought him into the focus. Else, Rasik did not even figure in the list of probables before. After Pathan groomed him, he went on to bowl first over in his debut IPL match, which is a huge achievement. If Pathan hadn’t been there, he would have still waited for a chance.
I was there when Rasik came for the trails. After he bowled just two deliveries, Pathan told him to stand aside. Rasik thought this is again a polite ‘thank you’ moment for him which he had experienced earlier. But when he was told that he has the potential to become a good bowler, he was happy. He was selected by Pathan instantly. Later Rasik took a hat-trick in the Ranji trophy. Not only Rasik but there are many others from different districts whom Irfan had spotted and they are now under training.
KL: Did you get offers from outside states to play for them, like Irfan Pathan?
PR: I got a lot of chances and offers from different corners to play for them. I could have earned a lot and could have got more cricketing experience but I decided to serve my state. I was the only player that JKCA could produce in the last 70-years, so if I had decided to go for privileges, I would not have satisfied myself. I want to contribute my bit for the state.
KL: You are the only player from Kashmir who has played an international match. Do you see any progress in Kashmir’s overall cricket scene since your amateur days?
PR: When I got selected for the international level, I thought things would change here for the good, but unfortunately, it did not happen. One after another, controversies and nasty stuff started cropping up. Things were never better.
But from last two years, I think there is some progress and things are going on the right track. I am optimistic that things will change for good.
KL: What has changed in the last two years that made you optimistic? Are you part of any faction too?
PR: This is all because of the intervention of the honourable court who appointed ‘committee of administrators,’ comprising of two judges. They make sure that the Lodha recommendations get implemented. That is why I believe now things are going better.
No, I am not part of any faction; I am with the cricket. Any side which promotes cricket I am there.