Mehjoor Ali Sofi

Mehjoor Ali Sofi
Mehjoor Ali Sofi

The games they play in Kashmir often freak out the talented lots. Perhaps it was the same toast of the game that cost chance to a tall pacer from Srinagar. So when the ambitious cricketer Mehjoor Ali Sofi approached the state cricket bosses for clearing decks of his county cricket, he was denied no objection certificate.

The brazen denial caught the cricketer off  the guard. Perhaps the young cricketer who represented the state in numerous domestic competitions wasn’t expecting the treatment from the new cricketing board who had promised fairness while succeeding the former cricket czar Farooq Abdullah. The denial marred Sofi’s ‘dream’ to start his career in the English domestic cricket.

To his credit, the cricketer has five T-20 matches, 4 List A competitions and 1 Ranji Tournament. Considering this, Sofi was ought to be picked by the Easton Tigers Bristol Cricket Club for the Premier Division One Cricket League, scheduled to start from May 8, 2016.

Earlier Mahmood Ahmed, chairman of the English Club, had written a letter to the British Embassy in New Delhi saying, “We have checked his (Sofi’s) statistics on ESPN Cricinfo and have viewed his videos on YouTube and it would be a great delight to have a first class cricketer from the Ranji Trophy in our team.” The arrival of letter had delighted the close circles of the 25-year-old bowler. But the moment state politics came into play, the delight changed into despondency. The hitch came despite Sofi performing well in major domestic tournaments.

Born on April 15, 1991, Sofi said when he went to see JKCA’s general secretary Iqbal Shah for NOC to play county cricket in England. Instead he was asked to furnish the proof. Even after showing the proof, he said, he was denied the NOC for being “pro-Abdullah” gamester.

By the time the issue made it to headlines, the JKCA’s general secretary said Sofi was denied NoC as no one from the club or the embassy had written to JKCA. Shah went on to explain that by denying Sofi an NOC, the board wanted to make him realise his mistake of “skipping the Ranji Trophy trials”.

Sofi hit back at Shah saying he was punished for denying the general secretary’s dictates to play for his ‘Kashmir Gymkhana Club’.

Amid allegations and counter-allegations, JKCA is at it again. Already, the scam-infested cricket board seems a divided house where the loyalty is distributed between Abdullah and Ansari coterie. Amid this cold war, the games they play only damp the spirit of the game.

– Riyaz ul Khaliq

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