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Hoped that I would be given a longer run in the national team, says Parvez Rasool

Meit Sampat
SENIOR ANALYST
Exclusive
989   //    12 Aug 2018, 14:06 IST

E
Parvez Rasool being awarded the Lala Amarnath Award for the best all-rounder in 2016-2017 Ranji season

Parvez Rasool has been making rapid strides in domestic cricket and has been the recipient of Lala Amarnath Award for the best all-rounder in Ranji trophy twice i.e. during the 2013-2014 season and again during the 2016-2017 season. However, the all-rounder has got just two opportunities to represent India in international cricket and is grinding it hard to make it to the national team once again.

In an exclusive chat with Sportskeeda, the all-rounder from Bijbehara opens up about his childhood, his growth as a cricketer, his journey from a player to captaining Jammu and Kashmir to making it to the national team.

Here are the excerpts from the interview:

SK: Did you always want to take up the game of cricket as a profession?

PR: My father was a cricketer and belonging to a cricketing family so I used to play cricket during my childhood. However to take up the game as a profession was never on my mind.

There was no infrastructure as such where I grew up which would lure a youngster to take up the sport as a profession. Cricket was played for fun and as a hobby. I worked hard, performed well at the Under 14 and Under 17 level and then thought that I could take it up as a profession.

SK: Considering the political turmoil and the adverse weather conditions in J&K, what kind of difficulties did you encounter in your journey as a cricketer?

PR: The weather in Kashmir definitely affects the game of cricket. So for that, the indoor facilities have to be adequate to make youngsters well equipped with the game which was not the case during my early days as a cricketer.

I had to travel 50 kms daily as there was only one turf wicket available at that point of time. Travelling and changing buses daily with a heavy cricket kit used to be difficult for us young cricketers and used to cause a lot of inconvenience to our fellow passengers as well.

But then once you start performing and playing well, you tend to forget all the difficulties and tend to focus only on the game of cricket.

SK: How has the game of cricket changed in J&K over the last two decades? How has the development been with regards to cricket pitches, infrastructure, indoor facilities etc?

PR: There have not been many changes as far as infrastructure is concerned. When I was selected in the national team, there was a thought that the conditions would improve but that was not the case.

It is really unfortunate that no steps were taken for the betterment of J&K cricket until the last year. The administrators since last year have taken up a few positive initiatives.

For instance, for the first time in the history of J&K cricket, tournaments were held at the district level. The selectors were present during the district tournaments and shortlisted certain talented cricketers.

Irfan Pathan was also associated with us during that period. It was really nice to have a cricketer who has played Test cricket to be associated with us.

The young cricketers who were shortlisted had their trials before Irfan which was a very big thing for them early in their careers. Irfan identified 2 to 3 cricketers who have it in them to make it to the next level.

This year an MOU was entered into and 24 grounds were taken by J&K cricket to develop the infrastructure. The grounds are there in J&K but the main issue is with turf wickets. The work for developing the wickets and the grounds is going to start shortly and hopefully will provide better facilities for development of J&K cricket.

There are positive developments happening in J&K cricket and hopefully, the results will be seen soon. The upcoming cricketers will hopefully not encounter any difficulties which we as youngsters had to undergo.

But until last year the situation was going to bad to worst in J&K cricket.

For instance in the last Ranji season, for our first match, we were travelling a day before our match till Delhi and from Delhi, we took a bus to reach Jaipur. We reached the hotel at 12.30 pm and had a match early the next morning. We have encountered many such difficulties playing the game. Thankfully we took a lead in the first innings in that particular match. But then there is no professional treatment given to cricketers.

There was only one ground with some facilities available for practice which is really unfortunate in this day and age. Hopefully, this will change soon and J&K will too produce some good cricketers.

SK: Describe your journey from a cricketer to captaining J & K state?

PR: It has been a good journey. I started performing well at the junior level and had captained the junior team too.

I then got the opportunity of captaining the J&K team and for the first time, J&K made it to the knockouts in the Ranji Trophy. We beat Mumbai which was a great achievement.

We hardly used to be considered as a threat, but in the last few years, we have won a few matches and as a captain, it is really satisfying to see your team performing well.

When we qualified for the first time, I ended up as the top-all rounder that season. It is always good to contribute to the success of the team and inspire youngsters.

Hopefully, with the initiative of district cricket being taken up, more youngsters will be identified who will take the game forward under the watchful eyes of a star like Irfan Pathan.

SK: You had a decent ODI debut against Bangladesh in 2014 when you picked up two wickets. Thereafter you have not played a single ODI and then you were then selected to play against England in T20s in 2017 when you played a solitary T20. How disappointing and/or frustrating it is not be selected in spite of performing well consistently?

PR: Definitely it is disappointing. When I was first selected in the national team I picked up 30 plus wickets and scored 500 plus runs that season in domestic cricket. I then got selected for the Board President's X1 and picked up 7 wickets in an innings against a visiting Australian team.

I was selected in the squad which was touring Zimbabwe in 2013 but unfortunately did not get to play a single game in Zimbabwe. I performed well on India A tour to South Africa after the series against Zimbabwe.

Thereafter in the domestic season, I was the top all-rounder and made my debut against Bangladesh in 2014 when I picked up 2 wickets. But then I did not get a chance.

Again I performed well in domestic cricket and was selected to play against England in 2017. I just got to play in one match in that series.

I hoped that I would be given a bit fair run i.e. a few matches so that if I failed I knew where I needed to work hard on my game. But it was disappointing that I got to represent India in only 2 matches till date.

My aim is to play Test cricket for India and am working hard for it.

SK: You have won the Lala Amarnath Award for the best all-rounder in Ranji trophy in 2013-2014 and 2016-2017. What more do you have to do to push yourself for selection in the national team?

PR: I am working very hard. It is a real honour to win the Lala Amarnath Award twice and especially being the first cricketer from J&K to win it makes it more special. As a cricketer, all-rounder, skipper I want to contribute to the success of the team.

My work is to perform and work hard and contribute to the welfare of the team. The rest is not in my hands.

SK: You personally have taken up certain initiatives for the betterment of J&K cricket. Share the same with us.

PR: I am planning to set up an academy with good infrastructure in the future. In my village i.e. Bijbehara I have prepared 2-3 practice wickets for youngsters. There are many young boys who practice there. At times I practice with them on those wickets.

My dream is to set up an academy with both indoor and outdoor facilities considering the weather conditions. Hopefully, in future, I set up the academy to contribute to J & K cricket.


Rapid Fire Round

Batting or bowling: At present- Bowling

Hobbies apart from cricket: Reading

If not a cricketer then: Haven't thought about it

Best friend: When you plan to get someone out in a particular manner and succeed it feels good and that person becomes my friend.

Rasool signs off by advising the youngsters from smaller states to put it the extra effort. He further advises not to give up the game considering that there are no facilities or infrastructure available. Working hard is the only way forward which will lead to success.

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Meit Sampat
SENIOR ANALYST
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