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'We need to back our players'

Dr. Farooq Abdullah, president of the Jammu Kashmir Cricket Association, talks about this season's Ranji Trophy show, on the problems faced and what lies ahead to Heena Zuni Pandit.

india Updated: Feb 05, 2008 23:09 IST
Heena Zuni Pandit

HT spoke to Dr. Farooq Abdullah, president of the Jammu Kashmir Cricket Association, about this season's Ranji Trophy show, on the problems faced and what lies ahead. Excerpts:

J&K played five matches, drew one (due to rain) and collected only three points in toto.

Yes, but at least we have participated. Kashmir has been under turmoil for so long and the effect of such devastation will take time to go. So we should encourage our players - at least they are coming out to play.

But the team has been participating in the Ranji from 1959-60, 49 years now and it's never done anything of note. Why?

There are many factors, more recently, the problems of the past 19 years... One of the chief problems we have is of selection. There is an intense rivalry between the clubs here and this is eating our cricket.

What has been done about this?

I have given the coach complete authority to select the boys he wants to play, I do not have a say in the selection process, I do not want to interfere. This year though, the selectors were sent from the BCCI, so we played some really talented boys.

You said talented boys. Like?

Like there was one bowler…

Abid?

Abid Nabi. He was a very good bowler but now he has gone to ICL so we do not consider him anymore for our team.

Why would a player like Nabi join the ICL? You can't really afford to lose your best players.

It was his decision. He ran away from the MRF academy. "Jaldbaazi, aur kuch nahi."

What could motivate someone to play for J&K?

We are giving all the requisite facilities under the BCCI norms, while the Ranji fees have also been increased. Besides, we are an independent association and provide full assistance to our players. They (players) are also recruited in different departments; they have jobs and anything they want. We have good equipment; we are coming up with health clubs and academies both in Jammu and Kashmir.

Is the Sher-e-Kashmir ready for full-time cricket? What led to it being handed over to the CRPF?

They have evacuated the stadium; it is undergoing a revamp and will soon be ready for some international cricket. We play domestic cricket on it even now.

What's being done to foster growth of domestic cricket, from where a pool of talent could be built?

We need to give more exposure to our players. For that we have asked for help from associations like Punjab, Himachal, Haryana, Rajasthan and Delhi, asked that their players play us, maybe, during off season. Also, we have to shift the trend of playing the 20 overs game to the longer version.

Are you thinking of bringing in big names from other states to raise the level of the game?

No, we don't need to outsource players as we do not lack in talent. We need to back our players first.

Has the BCCI helped?

The BCCI have been very cooperative, they have given us 25 crore to build our new stadium, for which we have bought land in Bajalta, near Sidra. They have helped us develop indoor facilities in Jammu, two academies on the lines of the NCA, and also develop the Science Collage Ground, as it is centrally located.

There is talk of a "Project Cricket" in J&K?

One of the problems of our state is unemployment and if people come into cricket they will get employment opportunities as well. So what we actually need is opportunity, exposure and all this without much political involvement. This is tough but not impossible.

You have to be in Delhi as well, how do you manage to look after matters of the association?

I am always in touch with the concerned people here. Work is work, it has to done.