Dream chasers from the valley

With the state’s star players like Parvez Rasool attending the camp, the J&K cricketers have ensured that the house is in order much before the season begins.

Irfan Pathan and Parvez Rasool during the camp at Sher-e-Kashmir Stadium in Srinagar.   -  Special Arrnagement

The Sher-e-Kashmir Stadium in Srinagar is unusually colourful these days. In the mornings, a large number of cricketers — seniors and juniors — gather in the stadium to sweat it out at the nets, battling the rain. As they chase dreams, two gentlemen — Irfan Pathan and Milap Mewada — closely monitor the performance of the cricketers.

Every time a shot goes wrong or someone fails to finish a drill, Pathan and Mewada make it a point to guide them. After all, as a player-cum-mentor of Jammu and Kashmir’s Ranji Trophy side, Pathan wants to ensure that the side fares well in the tournament this time around. And for that, the preparations have already begun — almost three months before the action begins.

Mewada, a former Baroda cricketer, has been brought in as the coach of the side. Having played enough amount of First-Class cricket, along with Pathan, Mewada has also coached Baroda and Chhattisgarh’s U-19 sides. And, that experience is likely to come handy in the new job.

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“So far, the camps are on in various districts of the state and we have made it a point to check out how the players are doing in those camps,” Pathan tells Sportstar from Srinagar.

While the other age-group cricketers will have their central camp soon, the U-23 and the Ranji Trophy players have already started their screening camp from Sunday. With the state’s star players like Parvez Rasool attending the camp, the cricketers have ensured that the house is in order much before the season begins.

As a player-cum-mentor of Jammu and Kashmir’s Ranji Trophy side, Pathan wants to ensure that the side fares well in the tournament this time around.   -  Special Arrnagement

 

“The idea is to ensure spot more and more talents from the state. The target is to raise the level of the game. We will conduct regular camps,” Pathan says.

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To make it a point that the age-group tournaments happen properly, tournaments are already on at various districts and most importantly, the selection committee members are being asked to visit those camps regularly. “It is a first in Jammu and Kashmir cricket that we have started preparing so early. This will help all the players,” Rasool says.

After taking charge the High Court-appointed Committee of Administrators has ensured that the state’s cricket scenes improve. Last year, the Ranji Trophy squad was named a couple of days before the tournament and the team could only reach Jaipur to play its first game against Rajasthan, a few hours before the match got underway.

“This time the efforts are taken to monitor the fitness levels of the players and also make sure that every department is well prepared. That is a big thing for state’s cricketers,” Rasool, the valley’s only international cricketer, says.

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Ever since taking charge, both Pathan and Mewada have focused on the overall development of the players. “As a senior player, I will always try to help out the youngsters. Improving the fitness level is a big thing and we must ensure that is well taken care of,” Pathan says.

 

Toeing with the Board of Control for Cricket in India norms, the team management has decided to conduct a Yo-Yo test for cricketers. The first test will be held on Friday. “But, this will not be a fitness test. This is the first time these players are taking the Yo-Yo test, so it is important that we see where they stand,” Pathan says, adding another test will be held later, which will be considered as a fitness test.

After the screening camp — which is attended by players who have featured in the Ranji Trophy for the last couple of years — gets over, there would be selection matches between teams and that, invariably, would help the team management finalise the squad.

After a couple of years of disappointments, the cricketers from the valley are again chasing dreams. And, they hope the hard work pays off.

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