Srinagar: The former Team India all-rounder Irfan Pathan who last season was J&K player-cum-mentor has signed new contract with J&K Cricket Association (JKCA) and will soon start his new role with J&K cricket.
At the end of domestic cricket season 2018-19, Irfan Pathan left J&K and had since been seen playing role of cricket expert on television.
Last season he played role of player-cum mentor with JKCA. Apart from mentoring players he represented J&K in all three formats of cricket. J&K under his command in the season 2018-19 failed to make it to next round in all the three formats of One Day, Tests and T20 cricket. However, there were lot of positives as well with his Association with JK Cricket.
Pathan upon his arrival in J&K last year had made it clear that he will be with J&K Cricket Association (JKCA) for one year and will think beyond it at the end of the season. So soon after end of the season everyone started talking about his time with JKCA and with he himself opting to remain silent, most of the people in cricket circles of State assumed it as end of his role with JKCA.
However, now putting all speculations to rest, Irfan Pathan has signed new contract with JKCA and he will be taking role of J&K cricket team coach cum mentor next season.
Confirming the development, JKCA Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Syed Ashique Bukhari said that the former team India star player will soon arrive back in Kashmir.
“Yes it is true that he has signed new contract with JKCA. He will now assume role of coach cum mentor. He is currently busy with his expert job on television and will be arriving in Kashmir at the end of Indian Premier League (IPL),” Bukhari said.
Bukhari said that JKCA was satisfied with the work that Pathan had done during last year and had no hesitation in roping him again.
“It is not just about what we want but it is also about what our players want. We monitored the work of Pathan keenly and also took feedback from players at ground level. They all gave positive feedback and we are delighted to have the legend back with us. Last season he was player and still did the job that he was not asked to do. He did talent hunts, coaching camps, because he wanted to make change and develop cricket,” Bukhari added.
During his time with JKCA last year, Pathan held talent hunt for the players from all our State who had done well in District tournaments. He also held coaching camp for the shortlisted players. During one such activity he was able to notice Rasikh Salaam who went on to become second ever cricketer from J&K to play in IPL.
Apart from coaching camps and mentoring youngsters, Pathan was instrumental in giving chances to lot of youngsters in J&K senior team. He brought new faces in J&K senior team at the expense of underperforming seniors. He was also behind the move induct players who did well in age group teams directly in senior team.
However backing youngsters was not easy job as he got lot of criticism for that and even JKCA selectors resigned in protest against his alleged interference. However, he kept backing talented players and absorbed all the pressure. At the end of the season there were number of talented youngsters who went on to play for J&K senior team and State found new cricket stars.
Apart from few in close circuits of JKCA including selectors all hailed the moves taken by Pathan in bringing youngsters in the team but when it came to Irfan playing in JK team as player, all in one voice criticized that.
Former J&K Ranji trophy skipper Abdul Qayoom Bagaw had also opined his views about Irfan,
“There is no doubt that he has been great cricketer but his prime as a player is well behind him. JKCA failed to utilize his services properly,” Bagaw was quoted by Greater Kashmir.
Another former Ranji trophy cricketer Zahoor Ahmad Bhat had echoed Bagaw’s words, “He failed as a player and as mentor got involved with things he shouldn’t have. We could have gained lot from his as mentor but when you got him as player as well that complicated things. He should have only been mentor and not a player at all”.
Now with JKCA roping Pathan as player, there is lot expected and one should expect him to take steps that are going to benefit J&K cricket.
(The article first appeared in Greater Kashmir and has been published with permission of author).