Dated 2018-12-15
12
Nov
2017

Ranji 2017-18: JKCA at it again

How, instead of being a facilitator and promoter, the cricket body is doing everything that goes to the detriment of the game as well as the players.

October 5, 10.30 pm. Jammu and Kashmir are playing a game 11 hours from now. I made a call to one of the players to wish him and the team luck. To my bewilderment, the team was still travelling to Jaipur, venue for J&K’s season-opener against Rajasthan, and the tone of the conversation suggested team’s confidence was in disarray.
This is something unheard of, but for those who follow J&K cricket, this last-minute arrival isn’t a surprise. You never know with Jammu and Kashmir Cricket Association (JKCA) – a cricketing body synonymous with corruption, nepotism, mismanagement, infighting, selection dramas and club politics.
The buildup to 2017-18 was trademark JKCA. J&K cricket was hit hard by its perennial handicap: administrative chaos. After failing to implement Lodha commission reforms, JKCA claimed it had no funds and wasn’t sure about the team’s participation in Ranji Trophy. It created ripples among the fans and players alike and needed BCCI’s intervention to restore sanity. The apex cricket body wrote a strong-worded letter to JKCA before deciding to bear the expenses of the team.

JKCA didn’t set the right tone. Someone from JKCA made sure its tussle with the BCCI was leaked to media, blaming the latter for stopping funds to the association. It was done on purpose to play a victim card. It backfired and the players were unsure of their Ranji participation this season, but the BCCI cracked its whip to put the JKCA administrators in their place.

There were hardly any preparations. A trial match here and there was enough for the selectors to pick the squad. JKCA did it the JKCA way.
The Ranji squad was announced just two days before the opener, but not without a twist – captain’s name withheld. As things got clearer, it came to light that head coach Mithun Manhas didn’t want the obvious choice Parvez Rasool to lead the side. JKCA almost succumbed to it. But, media pressure and outrage on social networking sites meant the captaincy band was handed to Parvez, just 18 hours before the game. Manhas wasn’t amused and didn’t turn up for the first game of the season.
Manhas, ever since he bagged the contract as coach cum player in 2015-16, has made JKCA dance to his tunes. The first thing he did was undermine Parvez Rasool – J&K’s best cricketer yet. Under Parvez’s leadership, J&K had historic 2013-14 season and gave a decent performance in the following one. Parvez commands players’ respect across regional divide and has played a sterling role in J&K’s resurgence.
Manhas as a replacement for Parvez as a skipper two seasons back was a bolt from the blue. It signaled former’s control and latter’s decline as a powerful cricketer. Parvez took it in his stride and kept piling on runs and taking wickets, but the balance and winning combinations had been unsettled. It defied cricketing logic.

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This is something unheard of, but for those who follow J&K cricket, this last-minute arrival isn’t a surprise. You never know with Jammu and Kashmir Cricket Association (JKCA) - a cricketing body synonymous with corruption, nepotism, mismanagement, infighting, selection dramas and club politics.

Here is a player, J&K’s best ever yet, replaced by someone who was on his last leg as a cricketer and who had left his home state for greener pastures to play for Delhi. And, when Delhi was done with him, harnessing his prime years, JKCA turned to him for captaincy cum coaching role.
Back to 2017-18 season: JKCA didn’t set the right tone. Someone from JKCA made sure its tussle with the BCCI was leaked to media, blaming the latter for stopping funds to the association. It was done on purpose to play a victim card. It backfired and the players were unsure of their Ranji participation this season, but the BCCI cracked its whip to put the JKCA administrators in their place.
Giving too much powers to Manhas in the last two seasons came back to haunt the JKCA big time. Manhas tried to overrule the association’s decision to choose Parvez as skipper. He made an allegation that Parvez was dividing the team, discounting the fact that it was under Parvez’s leadership that J&K came out of an abyss to become a force to reckon – only to be made rudderless when Manhas took coaching cum captaincy role. With JKCA not yielding to Manhas’ demands this time, the former Delhi middle-order batsman chose to give the first game a miss. A clear example of what Manhas thinks of J&K cricket. Instead of taking some action against him, JKCA preferred to remain silent. How Manhas could become so powerful within a matter of two years is a question that doesn’t have any clear answer as of now.
At a time when fair selections and topnotch management has become a feature of state associations across India, JKCA continues to breed incompetence, mismanagement and inconsistency. Even age-group cricket felt tremors of JKCA’s unprofessionalism when BCCI directed officials to stop a CK Nayudu Trophy (U-23) game between J&K and Goa with just 10 overs bowled. The decision – first of its kind – was taken in the wake of a court order.
In a brazen demonstration of unprofessionalism and highhandedness, JKCA had sent the team to take part in the event despite J&K High Court issuing stay orders on selection and team’s participation in the tournament after a petition was filed by a player accusing the association of unfair selection. Not only did it bring a lot of embarrassment and bad press for the JKCA, it left young players, keen to leave their mark at the big stage, in lurch.

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As things got clearer, it came to light that head coach Mithun Manhas didn’t want the obvious choice Parvez Rasool to lead the side. JKCA almost succumbed to it. But, media pressure and outrage on social networking sites meant the captaincy band was handed to Parvez.

Over the years, JKCA hasn’t made any attempt to put its house in order. Whenever cricket and the players have flourished, JKCA’s ill-conceived decisions have pegged them back. Bereft of proper preparations and handicapped by the association’s lack of vision, it is extremely difficult for players to bring their A game into play.
Yet, over the years, J&K players have beaten the odds to make their presence felt. Can 2017-18 season breathe some life into J&K cricket or will the JKCA’s dark shadow keep lurking?

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