Ranji Trophy: Old warhorse Beigh to call it quits

Samiullah Beigh, who represented the state side in first-class cricket for 14 long years, has informed the Jammu and Kashmir Cricket Association (JKCA) and his team-mates that this would be his last Ranji Trophy season.

Samiullah Beigh of Jammu and Kashmir has decided to hang up his boots after 14 long years.   -  Akhilesh Kumar

One of the longest-serving cricketers of Jammu and Kashmir, Samiullah Beigh, has decided to call it quits. The all-rounder, who represented the state side in first-class cricket for 14 long years, has informed the Jammu and Kashmir Cricket Association (JKCA) and his team-mates that this would be his last Ranji Trophy season.

Highly placed sources in the J&K side told Sportstar that 36-year-old Beigh will play his last game on November 17, when his team takes on Haryana in Lahli.

When contacted, the seasoned medium fast bowler confirmed the development. “I was contemplating (about this decision) from last year. I wanted to go on my terms,” Beigh told Sportstar on Saturday.

His decision has, however, come as a surprise for his family and friends. “I discussed about it with team captain Parvez (Rasool) and conveyed him the decision. All of them were surprised,” Beigh said, adding that his close friends have stopped talking to him for the sudden decision. “They are still trying to convince me. But I have made up my mind.”

Though the idea of hanging up his boots did cross his mind before, Beigh wanted to play a few more matches before taking the final call.

But in the last two games for his side -- against Team Rajasthan and Saurashtra -- Beigh had a rather dismal outing. He, however, says that has nothing to do with this decision. “It is time to pass on the baton to the young cricketers,” the Srinagar-born cricketer said.

Having started his first-class career in 2003 for J&K against Bihar in a Ranji Trophy outing, Beigh has been one of the prominent faces of cricket in the valley. “I have got three more games to go in my career and I would certainly hold nothing back to finish on a high,” said Beigh, who has 158 first-class wickets to his name.

But then, did the infighting in J&K cricket have a role to play in his decision?

Beigh, however, denies any such speculations. “It is a conscious decision based solely on moral ground. It is about letting young fast pacers like Omar (Nissar), Rohit (Sharma) and Mehjoor (Ali Sofi) have a consistent run from next season,” he said, quickly adding: “Otherwise, physically I am fit as ever and bowling as fast and as consistently as I ever was.”

In his long career, Beigh has played 61 FC matches and 37 List-A games. And as he prepares for his swansong, the bowler says it would have been perfect to bow out in front of the home crowd. “That was my dream—to play the last match at home, in front of home crowd. But this time, we aren’t playing home games,” he rued.

After retirement, he plans to start a cricket academy in Srinagar to train youngsters. “There is no cricket academy in Srinagar. Though there is one in Jammu, Srinagar lacks such facilities, so it is important to start an academy there,” a rather emotional Beigh noted.

That’s his return gift to the game he loves.