New Delhi: That cricket is the most popular sport in the country is no secret. The sport is played across the country and almost all states and Union Territories produce quality cricketers who do well on the domestic stage, before the cream of the crop go on to represent the country.
Jammu and Kashmir is one region where cricket is also extremely popular. Children across the region play the sport. However, high-quality infrastructure, coaching and overall guidance is largely missing.
In recent times, cricketers from Jammu and Kashmir like Abdul Samad, Rasikh Salam and Parvez Rasool have done well. All three have been part of Indian Premier League (IPL) teams. In fact, Rasool, an off-spinning all-rounder, also donned the Team India jersey and has played one ODI and one T20I.
Former India all-rounder Yusuf Pathan, who is a brand ambassador of cricket for J&K, recently met about 50 budding cricketers from Kupwara, Handwara, Bandipora and adjoining districts as part of a workshop that was held in Srinagar.
Yusuf feels there is a lot of cricketing talent in Jammu and Kashmir and the youngsters need proper guidance and direction.
“Abdul Samad, Rasikh Salam, Parvez Rasool are the cricketers who have gone ahead and played in the IPL. Rasool played for India as well. They have made a name for themselves. There is no dearth of talent in Kashmir and all they need is guidance and direction. There are some exceptional talents in Kashmir,” Yusuf told TimesofIndia.com in an exclusive interview from Kashmir.
“They have limited infrastructure and yet they produce good cricketers, which is a very big thing. The Indian Army is getting involved in it. Be it shoes, caps, jerseys or any equipment, the Indian Army is doing a lot for these youngsters. I have seen kids who can bowl at full speed, can hit the ball out of the park and there are some who are livewires while fielding. They need the right direction and platform.”
Yusuf, with the help of the Indian Army, has visited various areas in Kashmir, including Kupwara, Handwara, Bandipora and the adjoining districts, and met kids and played cricket with them.
“There is huge excitement and craze among kids in Kashmir. They want to play cricket and love this game a lot. The Indian Army is doing a lot for these kids. They are organising tournaments and competitions for these kids to create a different environment. This step has helped these kids a lot. Now, they just want to play cricket.
“I have spoken to a number of kids – all I want to say is that they are showing a lot of interest in cricket and they want to learn every single bit of it. I am really happy to see this,” Yusuf, who played 57 ODIs and 22 T20Is for India between 2007 and 2012, further said. (Agencies)