J&K senior cricket team recently finished its 2018-19 season after being knocked out of Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 Trophy tournament.
In its last event of the season, J&K cricket team lead by Parvez Rasool and its mentor –cum-player Irfan Pathan failed to make it to the next round after finishing at fourth place on points table. J&K in the season 2018-19 failed to make it to next round in all the formats of One Day, Tests and T20 cricket.
As the season just finished the focus has now shifted to the role of J&K’s mentor-cum-player and former International cricketer Irfan Pathan in J&K cricket. Upon his arrival in J&K last year, Irfan Pathan 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. During J&K’s last match of the season which was T20 match against Manipur, Irfan Pathan after below par performance in first five matches opted to stay out. J&K used youngsters for that match and won it.
JKCA had roped in Irfan Pathan to nurture the youngsters as well as lead J&K team in the national events. As for nurturing Pathan was involved at grass root level and held couple of talent hunt camps as well. However, his main role was leading J&K team. Apart from J&K’s average performance, his own performance was not up to the level what one expected. He failed in One-Dayers and T20 format while as had satisfactory season as an all-rounder in Tests. In Ranji Trophy he scored 428 runs and took 19 wickets for J&K. He had slow start but picked both in bowling and batting in later part of the tournament. Despite that J&K failed to qualify for next round.
In five T20 matches played for J&K, Irfan went on to score only 51 runs and take four wickets while as in One day format, he played eight matches in which he scored 79 runs and took eight wickets. As per his own standards the performances in limited over format was below par and only worsened things for J&K cricket as for selection is concerned. In his presence many deserving had to sit down or one can say he took place of many youngsters. Apart from that there was always question mark on his fitness.
Comparatively last year’s J&K performance in One Dayers and T20 was better than this season while as in Tests was almost same. In that perspective with the involvement of Pathan the performance instead of going up went down.
On talent front he may get due for nurturing the youth and giving under-19 and 23 level cricketer’s chance in the senior teams. He will also be credited by unearthing the talent of Rasikh Salam, an Under-17 level cricketer who was picked up by Mumbai Indian’s for Indian Premier League.
But overall his involvement with J&K has been average and controversy filled. All but one selectors appointed by JKCA resigned just before the season citing interference in team selection from Irfan Pathan. JKCA was forced to hire outside selectors, mostly on the recommendations of Pathan. His path in dominating the cricket affairs and being involved with most of the decisions was made smooth with JKCA having no full fledged body at present. And his close chemistry with Parvez Rasool made things easy for him to make decisions. With season over the big question for JKCA would be whether to continue with Pathan or let him go for the next season.
Chief Executive Officer of JKCA Syed Ashqiue Bukhari said that JKCA has not made any decision and will only be made once JKCA will have meet on this with cricketer.
“His initial contract with JKCA was for one season. We are yet to discuss on the future of Irfan Pathan with J&K Cricket. The season has just finished. We will sit together with Irfan Pathan and then see what will happen,” Bukari said.
As per expert’s former Ranji trophy skipper and coach of J&K Ranji Trophy team Abdul Qayoom Bagaw, JKCA failed in utilize the services of Pathan fully.
“There is no doubt that he has been great cricketer but his prime as a player is well behind him. As a player JKCA failed to utilize his services properly,” Bagaw said.
About his continuity he said, “I am no one to answer that question and it to JKCA officials to decide. They should review the whole season and then decide whether to go ahead out leave him”.
Another former Ranji trophy cricketer and one of the selectors who resigned on differences with Irfan Pathan, Zahoor Ahmad Bhat said that Irfan Pathan as a player was never a great choice.
“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,” Bhat said.
About Pathan’s continuity with team, he said , “ Not at all as player. Instead of Pathan JKCA should rope in any current top cricketer for a period of two or three years to set the base strong. There are lot of players who can contribute in the team performance and Pathan is not one of them”.
Reproduced from Greater Kashmir