Parvez Rasool is the unanimous poster boy of Jammu & Kashmir cricket. Not only was he selected in a Team India squad to Zimbabwe earlier this year (making him the first player from his state with that honour), Rasool also managed to get his state into the knock-outs of the Ranji Trophy. While his century and five-wicket haul against Punjab eventually went in vain, Rasool believes that the season hasn’t. Speaking to The Indian Express, Rasool hopes that his state’s cricket side will be taken more seriously in the future. Excerpts.
Are you pleased with the way J&K performed in this Ranji Trophy?
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Over all, I’m very happy with the way we fought. It was not easy to play four day games against quality sides with plenty of stars in them. We didn’t lose badly in the quarterfinals either, we had a chance to win here in Baroda (against Punjab) as well, but at the same time we must not get ahead of ourselves. We know the ground realities of where we’re from. So whatever we have achieved is remarkable for J&K cricket.
What are these ground realities?
Back home we don’t play long-form cricket. Most of us play T20s. Even two-day games are a rarity, played only during selections or trials. So playing in the Ranji Trophy for us is like asking a 100 metre runner to take part in a marathon. It’s a massive jump. But due credit must go to the boys. They managed to do so well.
How tough was it for you, as a captain, to motivate players who are yet to be paid their match fee due to problems in the association?
I have huge respect for the guys, they did not lose focus despite not being paid. It’s a tough life for most of us, only one and two players have jobs outside of cricket. For the rest of us, there is no salary assurance. Despite being selected for India, I don’t have a job outside of cricket. These players have to look after their families and also buy and manage their kits — bats, gloves, balls, stumps, everything. I’m hoping that the government will give us jobs so that we can at least not worry about the basic amenities to keep playing this game.
Do you think cricket and its infrastructure will change in the Valley following your side’s performance in this season?
We are hopeful and desperate that things will change now. This is the right time for the association (JKCA) to step it up and take some quality decisions. We don’t want anybody’s sympathy, just basic facilities will do. Just take Baroda for example. Here there are 16 or so nets; back home we have maybe one or two. We don’t even have a ground.
Will tours around the country help?
Yes, of course. It is the need of the hour. If we have to compete at this level then we need to play and participate in more tournament in major Indian cities. We don’t need to be sent to South Africa or New Zealand or Sri Lanka, just travelling to other parts of our country and getting that level of exposure will help immensely. You see, other states play cricket all year around. We at J&K meet only for the Ranji season. Today, if I want to go back home and practice, I can’t. It’s snowing.
There are other problems as well by being a J&K player, aren’t there? Like that late-night police search…
We have to live with these issues, we can’t do anything about them. Ab aadat pad gayi hai (We’re used to it now). What we want as cricketers from J&K is for people to talk about our cricket more than these other issues.
Coming back to the Ranji season, what was J&K’s highest point?
I think the highest point is that we will be taken seriously as a cricket team. I was lucky to become the first J&K player to be chosen in an Indian squad. But now there are others as well, players like Adil Reshi and Ian Dev Singh. Earlier, we were only chosen for zonal teams to make up the numbers and never given a chance in the match. That will hopefully change now.