Sunday, September 30, 2012


                                                ( Harish Bahri with a ball in his hand )
                                                    ( Dr Farooq Mirza  in Centre )

                                     ( Abdul Qayoom and Abdul Rauf )

                                                   ( CRICKET  AND  KASHMIR )

 " You need not worry. This type of growth is curative. Even if the biopsy report shows it as Edeno Carcinoma, she can happily live for many many years to come. She has no secondary growth anywhere as far as we know. We checked her liver in particular. It had no evidence of Metastasis. Keep her under the observation of Dr B.K.Jalali. I have not seen any attendant so faithful and concerned for his patient as all of you are. That way she is lucky. I wish her fast recovery. Keep meeting ". 

 That is what Dr Farooq Mirza told me when I went to see him in his room in the SMHS hospital, Srinagar on the day of discharge of my mother. He was in Dr Jalali's team that had operated upon my mother in the SMHS Hospital, Srinagar in 1983 for a malignant growth in the sigmoid colon. She lived trouble-free life till 1996 after that perfect surgery done by Dr B. K. Jalali. What a competent surgeon Dr Jalali had been at that point of time in Kashmir .?What a great and efficient support Dr Farooq Mirza had been providing to all the patients in Dr Jalali's ward at that point of time? I have not forgotten these two great men. I was also impressed by the mannerism and the  efficiency of young doctor Mirza who was a fantastic cricket player as well. 

Dr Farooq Mirza represented J&K state in the Ranji Trophy matches. I also need to mention the grand partnership of 80 runs that Abdul Rauf had with young Farooq Mirza in the Ranji Trophy match against the Punjab team played at Patiala in 1975. Dr Farooq Mirza scored 123 runs in that match. He was the first cricketer from our State to score a century in a Ranji Trophy match. Who does not remember his lovely catch to dismiss Kim Hughes in the match Australia v/s North Zone in 1978? His style and dash could convince any person that he was a true sportsman. So was Mushtaq Mirza from this family. Mushtaq was a leg spinner with a style resembling Chandrashekhar. The eldest amongst Mirza brothers namely Mr Mohi ud Din Mirza ( carpet exporter ) was also a great cricket player who represented J&K State in the Ranji Trophy. He was a gifted all-rounder.

Dr Farooq Mirza informs:-

 " The words of Rauf Sahab on 11 November 1975 at Baradari stadium in Patiala still echo with me sometimes. He advised me not to miss the opportunity to complete my century because three of us namely himself, Brijinder and M D Mirza failed to reach the triple-figure. He advised me to stay calm and focused until I complete the century. I often used to polish the cricketing shoes of my brother M D Mirza as well as Rauf Sahab before each match. That was a very satisfying duty to do for the two legends of our time."

 Cricket ran through the blood of Mirza brothers. They were cool, friendly and always full of warmth. Wherever they are, happiness and good luck are bound to be on their side 

Like Mirza brothers, Kashmir produced many outstanding players of the game. We had Abdul Rauf fondly known as Ruffi to his friends and fellow players. The tall Punjabi speaking player from Srinagar was a medium-fast bowler in addition to being an outstanding opening batsman. He was tall, Stylish and aggressive player. Once he scored 95 runs against Delhi team in a Ranji Trophy match played in Srinagar, hitting Bishen Singh Bedi several times across the boundary. That time spinner Bishen Singh Bedi played for Delhi team.

It was a real treat to watch dashing Rauf in a white dress and a cap on his head open batting for the J&K. His official record available with JKCA informs us that he played about 57 matches and with the highest score of 95 during his career spanning over 20 years. I believe Rauf played 63 Matches. .Rauf is reported to have played cricket on his marriage day and also on the day when a son was born to him.

Rauf belonged to a business family. He spoke fluent Punjabi. The family had a crockery store near Budshah Chowk just below the Taj hotel. His younger brother Talat was also a dashing cricketer.

I am told that post-retirement from the game, Rauf associated with JKCA as a senior selector and later its treasurer. He has been instrumental in arranging top coaches like Bishen Singh Bedi for JKCA. He tried to bring Mohinder Amarnath as well.

 We also had a fast bowler in the J&K team known as Abdul Qayoom ( nickname Qayoom Channa ). He was a terrific fast bowler. He broke the middle wicket of Akash Lal, the well-known batsman with his superb bowling. I do not know where Raza brothers are at present. We had Assad Raza and the handsome Ali Raza plying for the J&K team..We also had a player known as Khursheed Drabu. He was the fastest runner between the wickets. He was always smiling and quick. I came to know from a friend that Drabu Sahib had migrated to the UK where he rose to become senior immigration Judge .we would love to see the stylish Jammu batsman Brijender Singh or Mehboob Iqbal or the handsome Pervaiz Qureshi playing for the state in Ranji Trophy. team, We also had Girdhari Tiku and Sant Singh playing for the state team in several Ranji Trophy matches.

 I would like to make mention of one Jawahir Lal ( nickname Jawa Billoo )who too played in many Ranji Trophy matches. He would come down to the centre of the pitch to hit the ball. He would be pestered by crowds who would cry " Jaw Lal Four Traav "meaning Jawhir hit a four. And lo! Jawahir would listen and get out.

 Cricketer Harish Bahri of J&K, who played many Ranji Trophy matches inform me as under:-

 " Mirza brothers were very talented cricketers and contributed a lot in the game in our state. They fully enjoyed respect and love from all of us and their entire family always would come to watch their all matches without fail as a morale booster. I played many matches with Mohi Ud Din Mirza who was a class off-spinner and a great bat as well. Ruffi’s batting was always a treat to watch. Bishen Bedi can’t forget him in his entire life for the hammering he received from him in the Ranji Trophy match played at Amar Singh Club, Srinagar " 

Vidya Bhaskar, Shahid Parvez, Sanjay Sharma Mehboob Iqbal, Nirmal Singh, Sanjeev Chaudhary, Vijay Sharma, Surendra Singh, Ravikant Gupta, Akthar Ajaz, Ashwinder Koul, Parvez Qureshi, Parvez Kaiser, Narender Sharma, Vinod Sharma, Ravinder Pandit and Zahoor Bhat all from our state played Ranji Trophy cricket. 

I have mentioned some names which I recollect. There were many more who contributed to the development of cricket in Kashmir. Most of them had learnt the game in the lanes and bylanes of the city. Some would come to Iddgah or polo ground or Zind Shah Masjid ground, Rainawari on Sundays to learn the game. Some would go to S.P. college or Amar Singh College to play Mohalla matches. Some would make it on the road with a cheap bat and wooden ball known locally as Beera. The hand protection gloves, leg guards or head helmets were nowhere to be seen in those days. Only some boys from well to do families played with leather balls. Beera was heavy and hard but cheap and Popular. It could injure your body. It gave a lot of pain to fingers during fielding. I saw one or two accidents taking place with Beera hits in polo ground each Sunday where Mohalla teams from Amira Kadal, Badyar, Habba Kadal, Zaindar Mohalla or Sathu Bar Bar Shah would go to play cricket. Thus Poverty gave its pain in cricket as well.

 This cricket fever continues in Kashmir. The facilities, training and interest in the game have undergone a radical change. Now we have many cricket academies in the state where professional coaches train players. JKCA is also playing its role by engaging former test players of the national team as trainers. Irfan Pathan is the recent trainer engaged by JKCA. Bishen Singh Bedi had also been engaged by JKCA as a trainer. Young boys dressed in white cricket dress now go to Polo ground or Ram Munshi Bagh ground or Iddgah on Sundays to play cricket. Yes, the Beera is nowhere to be seen. They carry the leg guards, hand gloves, wooden wickets and sunshade caps. These playgrounds are full on Sundays. The Ram Munshi Bagh ground near Amar Singh club that saw the West Indies team playing a test match against India in 1983 is almost fully occupied by cricket players during Sundays. Many clubs, well-developed bat industry and a good number of sports goods selling shops make you believe that cricket is the game of choice for Kashmiris.

I need to make mention of the 1983 test match played at JKCA's Amar Singh Cricket Stadium, Srinagar. Surprisingly and unfortunately Clive Lloyd’s West Indies team got unusual crowd support while every Indian batsman’s wicket was cheered with delight. It appeared as if the hooliganism was a planned affair. A spectator carrying a poster of Imran Khan taunted Sunil Gavaskar who has recorded this unfortunate incident in his book  ‘Runs ‘n’ Ruins’  as under:- 

 ‘Being hooted at after a defeat is understandable, but this was incredible. Moreover, there were many in the crowd shouting pro-Pakistan slogans which confounded us, because we were playing the West Indies and not Pakistan.’

With so many Ranji players around, cricket will always be a great attraction in our state. We have so many young and talented players like Parvez Rasool, Abid Nabi, Arshad Bhatt, Sameer Ali, Vimarsh kaw, Pranav Gupta, Paras Sharma, Shubham Khajuria, Ian Dev Singh, Manzoor Dar, Mithun Manhas, Waseem Raza, Umar Nazir, Bandeep Singh, Samiullah Beigh and many more joining this long list for the Ranji squad at one point or the other. It is heartening to see some players from Kashmir or Jammu getting selected in National team or playing IPL cricket.

Maharaja Partap Singh was a great promoter and admirer of cricket. Jammu and Kashmir had its first international test cricket team in 1922 while the Indian cricket team was granted test status in 1932.

 Looking at many promising youngsters in the game today, many senior Ranji Trophy players from J&K must be thinking something like this:-

 ‘Qaafile aatay jaatay rehtay hain
 Kaar e duniya kabhi huva na tamaam..
 Kal jahaan me thhaa aaj tum ho vahaan
 Aey nai nasl tujh ko mera salaam’

 ( Avtar Mota ) 

Based on a work at http:\\\.