Till about a fortnight back, the Jammu and Kashmir cricket officials had doubts if they could even get in touch with their players and inform them about the dates of the pre-season training camp. The communication clampdown in the Kashmir valley after the abrogation of Article 370 had come as a bolt from the blue for the region’s cricket fraternity. Now, after a sudden turn of events, a 27-strong squad was sweating it out at the Moti Baug ground here, miles away from their homes.
The breakthrough had come about a week back when the idea of using the local television channels to get in touch with the players had worked. Subsequently, the team’s player-cum-mentor, Irfan Pathan, came up with the plan of shifting the team’s base to his home town.
The India international spoke about the role played by Baroda Cricket Association administrator Satyajit Gaekwad in bringing the J&K team to Baroda. “I requested him to allow the JKCA team to make use of the ground. He agreed and even helped in arranging to lodge for the team,” Pathan said.
He further stated: “I decided that we should go ahead with the camp even if all the players are unable to report. We are way behind in terms of preparation compared to other teams. For us, it starts now. The players who are from Jammu could be contacted but it was difficult to contact those who were from Kashmir. But it is good that the players are here and we are looking forward to the next few days at the camp.”
The players are presently lodged in private apartments but they will soon move to a hotel. Pathan said that it was important for the players not to think too much about the situation back home.
“Issues will be there but you have to find a way to overcome it. Either you crib here and keep thinking about what is happening or you do everything possible for the team to succeed. At least we can start to focus on cricket now,” Pathan said.
The players faced difficulty in getting to Jammu and some of the players took the help of local police officials to travel out of the valley. One of the support staff members managed to reach the home of Parvez Rasool, the India international, in Bijbehara to inform him that he should report to Jammu.
Acclimatisation will be key for the players as they have to get used to the heat and humidity in Baroda for the next few days. The players will travel to Jaipur to play their Vijay Hazare Trophy games in last week of this September.
The players will take part in a tournament organised by the Baroda Cricket Association called the Challengers Trophy, which will give them some vital match time.
The team has already missed the Vizzy Trophy as most of the players, including India international Rasool could not be contacted.