Jammu: Nepal national women’s cricket team captain Rubina Chhetri was initially unenthusiastic about joining Chief Minister’s T20 premier league here due to ‘fear factor’ but after spending time with local players she has developed a desire to play in Kashmir as well.
Chhetri is among a dozen international women cricketers from Nepal and Bangladesh who are taking part in the first such tournament in Jammu and Kashmir, jointly organised by Jammu and Kashmir police and state Sports Council.
“When I got an invitation for this league, I was scared to come here (because of militancy). After overcoming my fear, I feel I have made a right choice and I am enjoying my game. I wish I could visit Kashmir as well,” Chhetri told PTI.
Besides the international women cricketers, 70 players from 15 different states of the country and 45 state players, including a half from Kashmir, are taking part in the tournament, Organising secretary and former Ranji Trophy player Rajesh Gill said.
“We have mixed the players and formed eight teams with vice-captain and coach of each team being from the state as part of our efforts to provide an opportunity to the local girls to interact with national and international players to boost their morale,” Gill, who is also a member of state Sports Council, said.
He said this was the first time in the history of women cricket in the state that international players are taking part in a tournament and “we hope their presence will ensure proper exposure and boost the confidence of our players”.
Chhetri said violence was the first thing which struck her mind on seeing the invitation for women’s T20 tournament in Jammu and Kashmir.
“I came to know that Jammu and Kashmir are different regions and violence is restricted to Kashmir region. After meeting the girls from Kashmir and coming to know about its scenic splendour, I am looking for the day when I visit that part too for a game of cricket,” she said.
She said she has been to different states of India including Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Haryana and this was her first visit to Jammu and Kashmir.
Chhetri said she was highly impressed by the cricketing skill and talent of the local girls.
“I am sure one day they will represent India. They have capability to excel but need proper grooming and better infrastructure,” she said.
Shathirya Jakir Jesy, former vice captain of Bangladesh national women’s cricket team, said she is returning to the game after missing the tournaments back home due to pregnancy.
“I became the mother of my first child 11 months back and started practicing four months ago. The tournament came as an opportunity and I availed it,” the right-arm off break bowler and right-handed batsman, said adding she has a dream to play cricket in Kashmir.
“I have heard that Kashmir is known as paradise on earth due to its natural beauty. It is my dream to visit the place and I am hopeful that we will soon be part of the game there,” she said.
Abida, a BCCI and National Cricket Academy certified coach from Srinagar, said women’s cricket in Kashmir needs more focus and grooming to bring forth the hidden talent of the valley girls.
“I have been in coaching for the last nine years and I am fully aware of the talent the girls in the valley possess.
They are second to none but given the prevailing situation there, the focus need to be given in such a way that the women cricket do not suffer and the players be properly groomed to expose the hidden talent,” she said.
She hailed the police and sports council for organising such a tournament and said it would definitely have a positive impact on the players.
“This is the best tournament of my life in the state for the promotion of women cricket, where players were given an opportunity to interact with their counterparts from other states of the country and international players as well,” Abida said, demanding a similar tournament in the valley.
Jammu and Kashmir police Chief SP Vaid said such tournaments help build comradeship among the players who become the goodwill ambassadors of the state.
“It was a joy to watch the girls playing and excelling in different fields. The youth, particularly the women, are bringing laurels to the state in the field of sports and also by passing civil service examination,” he said.