KNOW YOUR CRICKETERS
If you involve yourself in a casual/formal chat with Samiullah Beigh, you will find him a matured bloke who knows exactly what he is talking. Apparently his engineering degree has got to lot do with it. From politics to day to day life issues, Beigh is never shy of his opinion, and has earned him many a follower with unadulterated expression of his ideas.
And, when you start talking about fast bowling, J&K’s seasoned pacer Beigh goes on and on. The tall frame of his powered with knowledge about the art he practices takes over: Beigh demonstrates importance of length, change of speed, setting the batsmen up for the dismissal, and, of course, value of having out and out pace.
Beigh, the matured bloke, is ditto as a fast bowler on the field. From being someone earmarked as the next big thing in J&K cricket at the turn of the 21st century to a leader of state’s fast bowling unit, Beigh has travelled a long way.
His performance with the ball in the recently concluded Ranji Trophy 2014 season is testimony to that. He was one of the star acts that fashioned J&K’s historic run in the tourney, with his side making a maiden last eight stages’ appearance.
Beigh was the highest wicket-taker for his side, snaring 35 and made vital contributions with the bat to get his side out of hole many a time. What stats won’t tell you is how Beigh was instrumental in egging up young fast bowling trio-Mohammad Mudhasir, Umar Nazir and Ram Dayal- and passing on the tricks of the art to them. For major part of his fielding, he would be stationed at mid-on or mid-off to guide the young fast bowlers and was skipper Parvez Rasool’s go to man when chips were down. Beigh during the course of the season became only the third J&K bowler to pocket 100 first class wickets.
The lanky speedster could consider himself unlucky to have missed out on IPL stint after performing so well this season. It wasn’t for the first time Beigh was dealt with a career damaging blow; he had his share of injuries that derailed him when he was at the peak of his prowess. At times, he didn’t get the support needed to make a big jump.
Kashmir Reader Sports Editor caught up with Beigh to know the incredible journey of J&K side this season, things he did differently and the players he is expecting to serve the state for a longer time.
KR: First things first, what did you do different this season to get loads of wickets?
Beigh: I had prepared for this season a bit differently than the previous ones. I concentrated more on match fitness than gym fitness or running. I played as many competitive games as I could both in Kashmir and outside in buildup to the season to keep myself ready for the challenge. I would avoid that in the past.
KR: Any technical changes?
Beigh: Technical changes, not much. I did make minor changes though which as a bowler one keeps doing. And, experience always helps.
KR: What was the motivation to perform so well?
Beigh: We had a horrible season last year due to some absurd reasons, I had prepared myself in a way as if I was a debutant in Ranji Trophy this year. Energy levels were great. I decided to start from scratch, taking nothing for granted, which I guess worked. Even the trial matches conducted by the JKCA, I played with absolute seriousness and full vigour. In nets I used to bowl fast which otherwise I used to take lightly before.
KR: Take us through the moment that proved to be season changing one.
Beigh: Team got the much needed boost after our first match dramatic win against Goa in front of a reasonable home crowd at SK Stadium Srinagar. To comeback from a precarious situation with team 100 odd for 7 chasing 260 and win the game, proved to be catalyst for the bigger things to come.
KR: You played a good hand in fashioning the tense win?
Beigh: I made sure I am there till the winnings were scored. Hardeep and myself absorbed pressure well and didn’t miss out on scoring opportunities.
KR: Young quickies were in your ears all the time for advice?
Beigh: All three young quickies in the squad-Ram Dayal, Mudhasir and Umar were eager to listen to the advice and learn. After my spell I used to field at mid-on or mid-off and would work out different plans for different batsmen, which mostly used to work.
Even young batsmen like Adil, Shubham , and Obaid would come for advice. What made things easier was way Parvez captained the side. He gave seniors due respect and treated juniors very respectfully as well.
Seniors like Majid Bayi and Hardeep also played a vital role to boost team camaraderie. We used to sit and spent a lot of time together. We used to go for shopping, site- seeing etc together as a team which was very fun and the positive effects of which reflected on the ground.
Support staff and selectors need a pat on the back as well. They didn’t change the team composition which helped players a great deal. It was a team effort.
KR: Reaching 100 wickets was an icing on the cake?
Beigh: Yes indeed. It was a special moment for me. Reaching 100 first class wickets and become only the third one from your state side makes it a sweeter contribution. I hope there are many more wickets in store for me.
KR: IPL snub was unexpected?
Beigh: I was more than hopeful to make the cut this time around. After a good show this season, a couple of franchise had shown interest and in-fact got in touch with me. IPL snub was due to my name coming very late in the auction list and at that time, the franchises who were interested in me had not much left in the pocket. I will put it to bad than anything else. Otherwise I had very good stints with Mumbai Indians camp and interacted lot with John Wright.
Also, Harbhajan Singh and Yuvraj Singh had strongly recommended my name to Mumbai Indians and Royal Challengers Bangalore but they had spent all money before my 354th number arrived.
Honestly I was disappointed. You can’t do much about it.
KR: J&K failed to live up to the expectations in the limited overs’ format?
Beigh: In 50-over cricket, we had a couple of close games. We lost a close game against a strong Delhi side and same happened against Services.
Team management tried some young players which unfortunately didn’t click.
KR: J&K failed to win a single game in T20s as well?
Beigh: I thought we played well in T20s, but were unlucky not to win any games. We fought well in T20s but lacked that finishing ability to win the close games.
We bowled pretty well throughout our campaign in Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy. Some great players in Sehwag and Gambhir for that matter weren’t allowed to score big. We tied our game against Punjab before losing in super over finish.
Some of our players lacked quality match practice which did us in.
KR: Where do you see J&K cricket positioned at the minute?
Beigh: We earned respect of our opponents. Even top teams are wary about our winning abilities. It is just we need to play more quality cricket in the off-season to ready ourselves for the competitive cricket.
This year we would be in a tough group and all onus is on the JKCA to give players enough cricket so that there are able to prepare well before taking on the big sides like Delhi, Punjab, Karnataka and Mumbai.
The top players need to be short listed this month and they need to play 3-day matches every week and they need to be sent outside to play longer formats rather than t20s or one dayers.
KR: What next for you?
Beigh: I hope to be selected for Duleep trophy this season and hope to do well over there. And, I want to do well when we take on the big teams next seasons and keep helping my state winning games.
RANJI TROPHY 2013/14
Bowling: 09 matches 35wkts
Batting: 09 matches 353runs
02 Man of the Match Awards