Reproducing the Interview that was published in daily Greater Kashmir of one of the top all-rounder;s that JK cricket has ever produced, Samiullah Beigh
You have the distinction of being highest wicket taker for JK cricket team in the Ranji trophy. How far do you intend to go?
Beigh: It is a great feeling to be on the top. Qayoompaji (Abdul Qayoom Bagaw) held the record for decade and a half and it was an honor to surpass him in his presence. But the record may not stay with me for long as Parvaiz Rasool is catching up very fast. We are currently highest first class wicket takers from JK and have claimed 156 wickets each. In Ranji trophy, I am slightly ahead. But I predict, Parvaiz would set unreachable records in bowling as well as batting for J&K in years to come.
Though you, Parvez, Ian Dev and Shubham gave your best in the Ranji trophy. What were the reasons for teams’ failure?
Beigh: Yeah. But to be honestly team atmosphere was not great. This season I found as if I was playing in a different team that had no will to win which used to be there previously. Most players in the team were more worried about themselves rather than the team which meant they couldn’t do much for themselves as well.
How you perceive your performance this season?
Beigh: Alhamdulillaah, my performance was good as an individual but I believe I could have won a few games for J&K, if my services could have been utilized properly by the team management. In most games I batted as low as number 10 and even didn’t get proper bowling spells, which costed the team more than me.
As far as how much it was needed. Yes, It was needed a lot as for some very absurd reasons (other than cricket) I was overlooked last season, which nobody has explained to me till date, as in selection matches last year, I was in top form both with ball and bat. It was a very harsh decision and in order to come back into the team with a bang I had to work doubly hard and all praise to Allah, who made me achieve such a high.
How was the veteran Mithun Manhas as captain and coach. Why was he changed?
Beigh: To be honest, for anybody coming from outside the State, who doesn’t play much of cricket here in J&K, it is always going to be tough for him to lead. It was a mistake on the part of JKCA to appoint him as captain as he hardly knows players and their capabilities. More over it must have been humiliating for Parvaiz Rasool as he had done marvelous job as leader of J&K team over past 4 years. We as a core group had built a unit which had established our writ by defeating sides like Goa, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Assam and Tripura in 2013-14 while qualifying for quarterfinals of Ranji trophy2013-14 for the first time ever in J&K cricket history. Next year (2014-15), we defeated Mumbai in Mumbai, Baroda in Baroda in Ranji trophy. We also defeated star studded Delhi, Haryana and Services team in one-dayer’s in the same year. So all of a sudden, to appoint somebody as captain who hasn’t seen and known J&K players much, was a mistake.
J&K finished last previous season. What was the reason, your exclusion or poor leadership of Mithun Manhas? And why was he re-instated as captain for this season again? Do the decision makers consult senior players before taking such decsions?
Beigh: Obviously my absence would have hurt the team. Even if I don’t take many wickets or don’t score big runs, I have always provided a big breakthrough to my team by taking most important wickets and I have always scored the most vital runs when needed.
Mithunbhai has been a great player. No doubt. But if you ask me, he should have declined captaincy himself just as he did this season half way. You see, when MS Dhoni plays for Jharkhand, he plays as a player and mentor not as captain. A captain has to know all the players inside out and has to spend time with them throughout the year. Just take my case for example, in all matches in which Mithunbhai, was captain, I batted at number 10. Because (I believe) he didn’t know I could bat. Then when I made century in 5th match, he realized his mistake but by then we had already lost three games, which I could easily have saved.
Regarding consultations, I have not been consulted for anything by the present decision makers, can’t say about other players. May be they don’t feel the need to consult, which in no way is offensive to me because I am there to play cricket rather than consultations.
The JK T20 event team is expected to be selected shortly. In your opinion who should be in the team?
Beigh: Personally I have written to JKCA to accept my non-availability for this T20 event as I wish to spend some time with my new born daughter. Ever since she was born, I have been outside the State playing cricket. So I need to spend some time with her before she says “who are you?.
We have very good T20 players but my humble suggestion to the selectors would be to select only those players who are excellent fielders as well. In just concluded Ranji trophy campaign, I am sure we dropped more than 30 catches which was a big reason for our us being knocked out from the tournament. So fielding and physical fitness should be given topmost priority.
What is your opinion about the non-state coaches and players who are roped in after paying huge money?
Beigh: We should not ignore our own talent or experience for outsiders. We have experimented with this idea of bringing in non state coaches and players many a times in the past but it has never clicked nor would it click in future also.
Our numerous wins in 2012-13,2013-14 and 2014-15, were achieved without any outside State players help, so why do you feel the need of it all of a sudden. But if, for exposure purposes JKCA wishes to rope in some stalwarts like Bishon Singh Bedi (although I personally had strong love-hate relationship with him, for sometime) or some other “India great”, it would be good.. At Ranji trophy level, you don’t need coaches but strategists who knows their players inside out and accordingly based on strengths and weaknesses of his players strategizes against opposing teams. And if you ask me ,hiring high profile coaches for a senior team just for Ranji trophy is simple wastage of money because by the time he is able to understand us, season gets over.
You made it to IPL squads couple of times what hindered your chances of making into playing-XI?
Beigh: I did but unfortunately couldn’t play even a single match. Once I had to return from Deccan Chargers, Hyderabad because of heat stroke and another time I had back injury. In 2014, I was sure to be picked by Mumbai Indians as I had attended their camp and John Wright had handpicked me. But when my name flashed for auction, Mumbai Indians had exhausted all money in their wallet. In short, bad luck.
You were among the top wicket takers in Ranji trophy tournament couple of times, what happened and why you couldn’t make it big. Any reason in particular?
Beigh: For four seasons I was highest wicket taker in Ranji trophy, if my memory serves me right. But the reason for not making it big is simple that during those days, national selectors used to pick players for national team from zonal level tournaments (Duleep trophy and Deodhar trophy) and not from Ranji trophy directly. I got selected for zonal events eight times based on my performances in Ranji trophy and Vijay Hazare trophy. But I was mostly made to carry drinks over there rather than play. In all these years I have played just one Duleep trophy game and just one Deodhar trophy game that too in 2014-15, when Yuvraj Singh intervened otherwise I was initially announced as 12th man in that match as well.
But now things have changed. Anyone who performs well for the state, is rewarded with India-A or Board President’s -XI matches.
Do you think this JKCA internal rivalry has hampered growth of JK cricket?
Beigh: It is no secret it has hampered growth of JK cricket. To be honest this rivalry is there in cricket administering body of every state but in other states a neutral body is empowered to run routine cricketing activities and no group dares to touch that neutral body.
Here also, JKCA should employ on roll, few qualified persons to run cricketing activities both in Kashmir as well as Jammu, who should be strictly advised to stay out of politics, group rivalry. Otherwise we are going down the barrel with no hope of return.
In your opinion what should be done to get JK cricket back on track?
Beigh: I strongly believe that JK cricket was right on track until the end of 2014-15 but suddenly the JKCA started accommodating blue-eyed players into the team, at a time when we were at No. 2 ranking in the Elite group. We just lost one game against Karnataka (the champions) and they got the opportunity to fill in their blue eyed boys. From then onwards we have been sliding down the barrel and last year’s worthy selection committee did the rest, if at all anything was left to be done to destroy the core group.
This season has been slightly better than last season as we finished with 15 points and at number 7, and considering most of us were under prepared due to the summer unrest here, the achievement is not bad, in my view.
To bring JK cricket back on track for the coming T20 event, my humble suggestion to JKCA would be to immediately call for a fitness camp at Jammu and make a few teams of T20 probables, and let the teams play a well-organized T20 tournament in which “sensible and selfless players” are made to lead each team. And when you select best of the lot, based on fitness on the field, current form, irrespective of club affiliations or age, I am sure we will be having an unbeatable J&K team for the coming T20 event.