"I'm not aware of any mistakes I've made this summer", this was Ted Dexter chairman of selectors after England got caned in the 1989 ashes. Selecting a side is never say; making an impression over the over greased selectors even difficult, in India, where the sheer weight of baggage is enormous that a player has to carry before catching a selectors eye. Parvez Rasool did catch. Playing for Board President's XI ( Yes, the head honcho of irregularities has an XI) against Australia, Parvez's drift and guile duped 7 unprosperous Aussies. The shy boy from a small town of Bijbehara- a town that connects us with India through a jalopy laden highway- started making noises in the gray corridors of BCCI HQ at Mumbai. An IPL selection for Pune few months later boosted the boy's confidence further.
In between BCCI had a harmless scheduled tour to Zimbabwe. Mugabe's godforsaken land still plays cricket. Who hoots? "I want everyone to play cricket in Zimbabwe; I want us to be a nation of gentlemen", Mugabe had said famously in 1984. The story didn't turn the way he had expected. Despots paint a picture and then ruin it themselves. But, that is for another day.
Parvez was named in the touring squad of 15. Took me at least by surprise. Was this is a Sadbhavna gesture? The mind kept boggling. Nevertheless, seeing a fellow countryman doing well, bloated our chests. After all, there are only two things that get us Kashmiris excited for all dime and reasons: Saal batte and cricket. We loathe; we bemoan; we rue and we sing the blues, over a well gelled Yakhni and a copybook cover drive: in same measure.
The Boy waited patiently on the bench, cooling his heels. I don't know if he got a chance to catch the African Safari all those days. Or was he too nervous already, to test the african wildlife. Meanwhile, the nation gasped its breathe back home. After each game the back-fence whispers started gaining vigor- from narrow snaky alleys of Bijbehara to the over-heated 'navid vaan' in an unusual hot summer, in downtown Srinagar. The buzz was common: they won't play him: Virat Kohli is Jansangh: this was just an eye-wash. The speculations came true. Sadly. Parvez returned home without playing a game. Knee-jerk reactions poured left and right. We blamed the poor boy- a traitor, a friend called him. He deserved this disgrace. Good lord! He is just trying to lure the batsman with his flight. State's cute, fish mouthed CM joined the bandwagon. He demands he has a right to opinion-ate in one of his tweets. We agree. If only he did on more serious matters.
All said, Parvez perhaps deserved a chance. Or may be he didn't. But, if he is good he will have his day in the sun. A good Ranji season should get him back in reckoning. India is still searching for a Kumble, a Harbhajan. The Ashwins and Chawlas haven't still earned a permanent place in the XI. Someone remind Parvez, before he loiters depressingly along the fields that run parallel to Jehlum, where he first learned that flight.
Say that cricket has nothing to do with politics and you say that cricket has nothing to do with life. Prophetic words.
Best of luck my countryman.
The article appeared in daily Kashmir Observer.