Budgam: The cricket ground at Sozeith village in Budgam district is suffering official apathy despite being the biggest cricket facility in the valley where dozens of teams can play concurrently.
This is despite government’s tall claims to strengthen sports infrastructure in the state with the aim of grooming talent.
The playground with hundreds of Kanals of land is located on Srinagar-Gulmarg highway; only 15 km from Lal-Chowk, the city centre. But the players and spectators reach the ground walking through wetlands and cross a river on a log-bridge as the place has no road connectivity.
Two major cricket tournaments are being played at the cricket ground. One among them is the State Premier League, which attracts large number of spectators from across the valley. But the walk to entertainment events at the cricket ground can be precarious.
Two players from Srinagar died while walking to the ground in 2013. The two had slipped to death while walking the log bridge to cross the river. It is tricky to cross the bridge, especially during the rainy season, say the players.
“The deaths got lots of publicity on that day and the J&K State Sports Council, which is the autonomous sports body in the state, assured cricketers that a bridge will be constructed on priority basis. But no construction has happened,” the player Showket Ahmad said.
He added that a pavilion should be constructed so that we could take shelter when it is raining.
The stadium is surrounded by the river on two sides and a wetland on the other two sides. During rains, the overflowing water enters the ground and damages the main wickets. There are no protection walls to stop the water.
“The domestic animals add to our misery. They graze and excrete on the outfield and we have to deal with it,” another player Tauseef Ahmad added. “The big claims of government to strengthen the sports infrastructure have been trashed.”