New Delhi: Parvez Ghulam Rasool Zargar, to give his full name, is a decent off-spinner and handy batsman to be considered a bowling all-rounder. It is immaterial whether he came from Kashmir or Kerala, he will play for India if he is good enough to earn his cap. A cap can`t be handed out for sentimental reasons.
Parvez not being handed his India cap on the Zimbabwe tour of one-dayers, which ended Saturday, has unnecessarily become the talking point, thanks to his state Chief Minister Omar Abdullah going to town criticising his non-selection even when his father Farooq Abdullah, who is the president of the Jammu and Kashmir Cricket Association, did not react so vehemently.
When has Omar Abdullah started taking such keen interest in cricket and what is this specious argument that if 14 players got to play why not the 15th.
If only he had shown the same alacrity in unravelling the mystery of over Rs.50 crores vanishing from the books of the Jammu and Kashmir Cricket Association, the state`s cricketers like Parvez would have benefited more.
His pleading tweets, "Come on BCCI give the young man a chance to prove himself", and "Did you have to take him all the way to Zim to demoralise him? Wouldn`t it have been cheaper to do it at home?" may have given him politically a kick, but it is in poor taste, unless he wants to take credit for the young man`s exploits on cricket field.
Omar should have also taken to task some people in the valley who make no secret of their dislike of Parvez playing for India and their statements that they would support their cricketer but not India. Worse, they said they would not even support the lad from Bijbehara, a small town in Anantnag district, if he plays a key role in India beating Pakistan! Not to be left behind, Union Minister Shashi Tharoor joined with his percussion: "Bizarre selection. Could easily have rested Jadeja & Raina for Rasool & Rahane," he tweeted. "What`s the point leading 4-0 if you can`t give every member of the touring team a chance to play at least once now by reshuffling the deck?"
Not taking away their right to express their views, do they at least concede that the national selectors, coach and captain are competent enough to pick the squad and the playing eleven? Whatever may be their compulsions, political or otherwise, they have trod a dangerous path, though they are not the pioneers of the indiscretion. There have been instances where politicians jumped in to back players from their states and luckily they confined themselves to making only puerile statements.
What is more bizarre in this case is that captain Virat Kohli chose to defend the selection when there was no need for him to do so and saying that he was not bothered by the criticism.
Kohli tried to justify Parvez sitting out, saying Amit Mishra was cooling his heels for the last two months and he had to be played and that the Kashmiri young man will get his opportunity when he goes with the India A team to South Africa from Zimbabwe.
Surely, Parvez himself may not be complaining too much about not getting to play in Zimbabwe since he did not fit into Kohli`s scheme of things. Coming back to Omar`s concern for Parvez, he and his father should have taken interest in cleaning up the state`s cricket administration instead of acquiescing in carrying out the obnoxious quota system whereby the valley and Jammu get equal representation in the state`s Ranji Trophy squad.
And then if Omar is so fond of Parvez, he should have given the 24-year-old a job in the state government, though he may not need one if he has a long run as an international cricketer. What is so special about Parvez? The list of people who waited for the India cap despite their enormous talent is long. Why go far, his own teammate Ambati Rayudu, who was hailed as the closest to Sachin Tendulkar in class when he was first spotted a decade ago, made his international debut in the fourth one-dayer at 27, though for no fault of his.
For the record, Rasool made his first-class debut for J&K in 2008-09 and has played 17 first-class matches, scoring 1,003 runs and taking 46 wickets. Playing against Australia for India A he took seven wickets for 41. He also played for Pune Warriors last season.