J&K Cricket: The rot is deepening

  • asif m d hajra
  • Publish Date: Oct 15 2018 3:37AM
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  • Updated Date: Oct 15 2018 3:37AM
J&K Cricket: The rot is deepeningPhoto: Kashmir Ink

Day in and day out the local newspaper’s headlines read “J&K suffer … consecutive defeat..”. Be it the senior cricket team of the state led by Parvez Rasool or U-19 team with Qamran Iqbal playing a lonely battle, cricket in J&K has reached a new low. While the seniors suffered six consecutive defeats before tasting a win against the bottom-of-the-table team in the ongoing Vijay Hazare Trophy, the juniors (U-19) have already suffered three in Vinoo Mankad Trophy.

Leadership issue

Recently, a veteran cricketer of the state while commenting on the issue of pathetic performance of senior team in the ongoing Vijay Hazare Trophy, said that it was more of the “leadership” issue rather than the problem of individual performance. 

Every good cricketer does not necessarily make a good captain. A case in point is the ‘Little Master’ Sachin Tendulkar, one of the greatest batsmen of all time, however, was not a very successful captain. Tendulkar’s record as a captain is abysmal in tests with only 16% wins. Out of 25 tests he captained in, the results included 4 wins, 9 losses and 12 draws. In ODIs, it was relatively better with 31.50 winning percentage. 

Commenting on the traits of a captain, former Australian international cricketer Steve Waugh said, “The captain has to pull together ten different individuals with contrasting personalities and personality traits and get them all going in the same direction by treating them equally but differently.”

Treating every player equally is important to attain team unity. Equality and meritocracy helps to get the best out of the available talent pool under any situation. In contrast, if bright players are overlooked in favour of fading ones, lack of motivation to perform among the overlooked ones leads to team failure. Moreover, worst cases of favouritism result in negative emotions like jealousy, anger etc. which tend to exacerbate team performance. 

Any captain can sustain for short-term by befriending media to publish reports of his/her heroics, but a visionary leader is an altruist, selflessly dedicated to a larger goal of societal development.     

Modern day captaincy demands selflessness, honesty and trustworthiness, respect and encouragement for teammates, passion to perform and above all, capacity to admit mistakes and courage to step-down in times of failures only to make way for better leaders.

JKCA mess  

December 7, 2017, edition of a Delhi-based daily read, “Former counter insurgency cop is Jammu and Kashmir cricket CEO. The appointment comes a month and a half after the court appointed two judges as the administrators of the cricket body. “In our opinion, a suitable person has to be appointed as Chief Executive Officer, who may have also administrative skills, therefore, we deem it appropriate to appoint Ashiq Hussain Bukhari, IPS, retired DIG, as Chief Executive Officer, who after approval of the Committee of Administrators, shall associate some reliable undisputed members of the Working Committee who have not incurred disqualification, for running the affairs of JKCA under the supervision and control of Committee of Administrators till rules are amended and elections are held,” a division bench of J&K High Court comprising of Justice Mohammad Yaqoob Mir and Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey said.

Over the period, the sequence of events that have unfolded in the State’s cricket, do they signify totalitarian approach to handling cricket affairs of the State? 

Firstly, contracting the faded Irfan Pathan as mentor-cum-player of J&K’s Ranji Trophy team, has not only crept in controversies, in fact, it has collapsed the whole selection process. One after the other, all the members of the selection committee tendered resignation due to ‘undue interference’ of the mentor-cum-player in the selection process. For the sake of argument, if the reason cited by the resigning members is presumed to be true, then the concept of ‘Committee’, which is an emblem of any democratic setup, has lost its sanctity within the existing state of affairs within the Association. Reportedly, it was the difference of opinion between the selectors of Baroda Cricket Association and Irfan that had led to his ouster from the Baroda Ranji Trophy-2017 team. Could this have been an important piece of information for the authorities of JKCA before contracting Irfan as player-cum-mentor? Are background checks unwarranted? Background checks tantamount to efficient selection processes, which has not been done, perhaps, and the controversies, are obvious!

Secondly, resignation of the member of Working Committee of J&K Cricket Association (JKCA) Sham Saroop Kalsotra from Committee of Members, alleging that ”…Committee Members are just a frill or an ornament attached to the Association and hardly consulted on cricketing matters..”, signifies the extent of centralization in the decision-making process within the Association, which otherwise, is a decentralized institution with a General Body, Cricket Advisory Committee, Men’s Selection Committee, Junior Cricket Committee and many other committees.              

Theoretically, leadership signifies the process of influencing individuals and groups toward set goals and knowing what should be done to influence group members to cooperate so that the set goals are achieved. Witnessing the scale of fragmentation within the Association on the issues of selection, among stakeholders on redrafting of Constitution and, the general cricketing atmosphere of the State spoiled by abysmal performance of the State cricket teams recently, it is obvious that the rot is deepening.