Manhas stays out of J&K’s Ranji opener

The vastly experienced cricketer, who was the coach cum mentor for the team last season, was unhappy with JKCA naming Parvez Rasool as skipper; he did not travel to Jaipur.

With Manhas pulling himself out of the opener, his future as the coach of the side has now become uncertain.   -  R.V. MOORTHY

 

The infighting in the Jammu and Kashmir team was out in the open on Friday as the team started its Ranji Trophy campaign against Rajasthan in Jaipur without its official ‘coach’ Mithun Manhas.

The vastly experienced Manhas, who was unhappy with the Jammu and Kashmir Cricket Association (JKCA) naming Parvez Rasool as the skipper for the Ranji Trophy, did not travel with the team to Jaipur. While Rasool led the side, bowling coach Abdul Qayoom took additional charge of coaching the side for the tournament opener.

Read: J&K misses practice due to endless travel

Manhas, on Thursday, had told Sportstar that he was unhappy by JKCA’s decision to appoint Rasool as the skipper. “I am not happy with the way he (Rasool) handled the team,” Manhas had said, alleging Rasool of creating a divide within the team.

He, however, remained unavailable for a comment on Friday. Even repeated attempts to reach out to JKCA secretary Iqbal Shah failed. But a section of players, who are with the Jammu and Kashmir side in Jaipur, are miffed with the whole issue. “This is clearly not the best example set by someone like him (Manhas). But the players will have to deal with it,” one of the sources said.

The team’s local manager in Jaipur, Naresh Sharma, also confirmed to this publication that Manhas hadn’t travelled to the Pink City with the visiting team.

With Manhas pulling himself out of the opener, his future as the coach of the side has now become uncertain.

Muddled in controversy, the JKCA named the side for the Ranji Trophy only on Wednesday. That too in a hush-hush manner! While the players were individually informed about their selection, there was no official announcement. The final playing list was out a few minutes before the team took the field at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium on Friday morning.

Manhas, who travelled to Jammu and Kashmir two seasons ago as the mentor-cum-captain, was given the choice of selecting a role this time around. While JKCA secretary Shah had earlier said that Manhas will only remain as the coach this season, the latter had refuted the claim saying, “My role will remain as it was last season.”

But things turned ugly after the selectors named Rasool the captain. While the players travelled to Jaipur from Srinagar on Thursday, only to reach the venue barely a few hours before the opening game, suspense prevailed over Manhas.

But the incident has now opened a can of worms for Jammu and Kashmir’s cricket.