Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir Cricket Association and controversies are inseparable. So much so that state High Court has stepped in. The court has barred JKCA to pick U-23 team for C K Nayudu trophy on conditions that merit and performance has been overlooked.
But despite the court orders, the JKCA has gone ahead and chosen team on phone, hauled the players in a private hotel before 'secretly' flying them out to Andhra Pradesh where it is scheduled to play its first match on Sunday. "If they play with Goa, it will be contempt of the court," Meeraj Azim, lawyer of Hisham Saleem, who has contested the 'selection' told News 18.
Hisham, a promising cricketer has pleaded before the court that 'merit was overlooked and undeserving were picked up for final selection. He said the U-23 squad was not even publicised as is the norm.
Between 2014 to 2016, Hisham has scored at an average of 56 and 44. In the Cooch Behar trophy (U-19 in 2013-2014), he was the second best run scorer after Shubam Khajuria (Average 79) and better than S Pundir (33) and Paras Sharma (36).
While Khajuria and Sharma has been playing for Ranji since last four years, Pundir is the captain for U-23 team. "The figures speak for themselves," a visibly upset Hisham told News 18 in an interview.
"I have sweated a lot for the game. Players who would skip nets and performed badly were secretly picked in the squad. You can call the selection covert or underground," he said.
Sources said on Thursday evening players included in the squad were called over phone to a hotel and then next morning boarded in a flight without publicising the squad.
"This is first time when no one has an idea of who figures in the list. Were they selecting spies or cricket team?" a former cricketer told News 18. "Why is there no transparency. In Prime Minister Modi’s Digital India programme, no website is maintained by JKCA," the former cricketer said.
Hashim says players with averages of 10, 20 and 22 have been picked up continuously for second straight year and favouritism is ruling the roost in JKCA.
In the plea, he has mentioned that one Moomin Mansoor got picked up in U-19 team last year by selectors – one of whom happened to be his father. "This is a serious conflict of interest," it says.
Hashim alleges Wajahat Majeed was the selector for U-23 format initially and he had shortlisted 45 probables and he figured at serial number 4 while Momin Mansoor was at 23rd spot. He says Mansoor Ahmad Lone – Momin’s father was shifted from U-19 and appointed as one of the selectors for U-23 to 'facilitate the selection of his son'.
He said Mudabir, another player, who has skipped trails and was not figuring in any initial list was selected in the final U-19 squad.
"Players are mainly picked from clubs like Gymkhana, Sangam because the top office bearers of JKCA own or control them," said an aspiring cricketer.
The plea states further that Lodha Committee recommendations were openly flouted as a government employee was made chief selector for U-23. A physical teacher with Education Department has been given the task to pick up a squad. There cannot be a bigger irony.
Meanwhile, the state Ranji team got a rough treatment on Friday when it was made to travel by road hours before they had to turn up for their match against Rajasthan in Jaipur on Friday.
Gowhar Geelani, a cricket commentator, told News 18 that there cannot be a bigger mockery than rushing cricketers to a ground hours before a hectic travel schedule.
"When would have they settled down, practiced and gone to a gym. This is ridiculous."
"The cricket association is a mess. It was a mess under Farooq Abdullah and it is a mess under the PDP-led dispensation," he said.
Iqbal Shah, general secretary, JKCA refuted the charges of favouritism. He said rules are being followed and selection is done purely on the basis on the merit. "There is no conflict of interest. We will rebut the allegations point by point," he told News 18.
The JKCA has been courting lot of controversies since last decade. A massive financial bungling had surfaced when former JK chief minister Farooq Abdullah headed the association.
Infighting among the cricket wings of Jammu and Kashmir, favouritism and lobbying on regional lines have badly marred the association at the cost of promising cricketers. While Parvez Rasool is the only cricketer to have turned in India blues, the growth of budding cricketers has been stymied by strange conduct of affairs.