Samiullah Beigh: All-rounder Beyond Cricket

  • Asif M D Hajra
  • Publish Date: Aug 26 2018 8:38PM
  • |
  • Updated Date: Aug 26 2018 8:38PM
Samiullah Beigh: All-rounder Beyond Cricket

They say that cricket is a gentleman’s game and if the gentleman is an all-rounder, generally, he is the trump card among the playing eleven. A cricketing all-rounder is a specialist batsman with a touch of bowling skills or vice versa. For the captain, an all rounder is “Bhrahmastra” and for spectators, he is like “cheese in the burger.”

Throughout history, this gentleman’s game has embossed many all-rounders into playboys, brand ambassadors. Sir Garfield Sobers, Ian Botham, Imran Khan, Jaque Kallis, Kapil Dev and Ravi Shastri to name a few. While fading away of fame with time is inherent to every athlete, yet a few possess extra-athletic skills to keep shining off the field. Ageing may let their athletic skills down but it only complements their interpersonal skills.

If I am given to prepare a list of greatest all-rounders who have lived king size, Imran Khan would surely top the list. Graduate with honours from Keble college, Oxford in Philosophy, Politics and Economics

Imran also has the distinction of having two Hilal-e-Imtiyaz (the second highest civilian award given in honour in Pakistan) to his name. Captain of the 1992 cricket world cup winning team, this man has contributed exceptionally to many other social aspects. On philanthropy, Imran is credited with executing large scale projects like Showkat Khanam Cancer Hospital the first of its kind in his home country. Lately, in politics, he has taken the challenge to stabilise his country by assuming the charge of Prime Minister of one of the most volatile countries in the world.

On personal front, this man has been the poster boy for decades and on masculinity, the score keeps ticking (on lighter note, Jemima must be witness to many more).

Back home we have an all-rounder beyond cricket too. Samiullah Beigh – the only 140 kmph + bowler in the state’s history, upon whom the legendary Australian Dennis Lillee once reportedly commented, “Count yourself among unfortunate if you are not able to make it to the Indian national team”. Having the privilege training under Lillee at the country’s premier MRF academy in 2006 along with the likes of Varun Aaron, S. Sreesaanth etc. all of whom have represented the country in one format or the other at different points of time, Samiullah has, indeed, been unlucky for not being able to make it the national team ever in his cricketing career.

With around 15 years of first class cricket under the belt, this lanky fast bowler from Soura has taken a total of 158 wickets at first class level - the highest number of wickets by any state bowler – at an average of 38.77 and economy rate of 3.56. Having the best figures of 6 for 42 against Assam in 2013 Samiullah has a total of eight 5-wicket hauls and five 4-wicket hauls to his credit as well. His victims include star cricketers like Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Waseem Jaffar etc. all of whom have acknowledged the talent of the speedster. Recalling his most memorable bowling performance, Samiullah says, “During Vijay Hazare trophy against Delhi in the season 2014-15 bowling Sehwag, Gambhir and Unatkad in a space of 4 balls was wonderful as it ensured that the State team defeated a Delhi side which was packed with 8 international stars and dismissing the three players of such stature and that too clean bowled and caught behind was fascinating, as it turned the match on its head. “The icing on the cake was that in the same match, I scored the winning runs as well.”

So far as his batting ability goes, Samiullah has scored a total of 1739 runs at an average of 22.29, decent by all standards for a bowling all-rounder. His batting performances includes a maiden ton (109*) against Services in season 2016-17 and nine half-centuries.

Renowned for his upright nature and having a 15 year career filled with episodes of battles with JKCA administration over mismanagement in selection and providing of facilities to the players, Samiullah made to

the headlines in national media in 2011-12 when as captain of state Ranji team he declined to play under the legendary coach Bishen Singh Bedi, and returned home from on-going Ranji trophy, which wasfollowed by entire Kashmiri players boycotting the Ranji match against Andra Pradesh at Jammu. Recalling the event, he says, “I have great regard and respect for the legendary Bedi sir, but when it comes to your principles, one has to take a stand and bear the consequences gladly. Cricket has taught me to look beyond petty self interest and the major point of controversy was the unacceptable behaviour of the coach towards some of the seniors players in the team including Abid Nabi, Druv Mahajan and Arshid Bhat. And as a leader, you have only two choices, either to keep mum and preserve your self interests or stand up against the wrong and bear the consequences!. I chose the latter. I am still proud of having taken such a stand, even though at times, one is quite prone to succumb under pressure.”

Look at his academics. M. Tech in Structural Engineering from the prestigious erstwhile Regional Engineering College (REC), Hazratbal (now National Institute of Technology), Samiullah has been a bright student in the yesteryears. To mention, for his master’s programme, Samiullah has had the privilege of qualifying GATE 2004 ( Graduate Aptitude test in Engineering) and subsequently topped the PG entrance test at NIT Srinagar in 2005, and got admission in M. Tech in Structural Engineering on GATE scholarship. Always studious, Samiullah also boasts of having done his Bachelor’s in Engineering (Civil) from the same prestigious college after cracking the engineering entranceexamination, which most of the students aspire to qualify in life.

In pursuance to his professional accomplishment, Samiullah again proved to be exceptional by first qualifying SSB interview for JE post in 2007 and then passing the daunting J&K Public Service Commission Examination for the gazetted post of Assistant Engineer (A.E. Civil) in the year 2008 with flying colours and presently holds the post of Assistant Executive Engineer (AEE-Civil) in PHE Department, Government of J&K.

Although presently at the age of 34, Samiullah is considered to be one of the fittest cricketers of J&K, yet this gentleman has chosen to stay away from shorter formats (one day and T-20s) only to pave way for the grooming of youngsters. After serving a long inning, in October 2017 Samiullah officially declared his retirement from these two formats. However, he is yet to decide the day of hanging his boots in the longer format of Ranji trophy cricket. Regarding his retirement plans in the longer formats, he says “I haven’t decided anything on it yet, as I am away from home, I will take a call on it as and when I return home.

Accompanying Samiullah on the Hajj pilgrimage, which we both are still on, I have found a writer in Samiullah as well. Already having contributed around 200 write-ups on the issues of faith, cricket etc. in different newspapers of the valley, Samiullah is busy writing his hajj diary. And while in discussion, it has come to fore that Samiullah has successfully launched a cricket academy this year under the name and style “SUBCA” with around 200 enrolments already.

To conclude, this talented cricketer of the state is all-rounder beyond cricket.

 

(The writer can be reached at asifmdhajra@outlook.com