Sportzwiki’s Exclusive: Meet Samiullah Beigh Who Engineered The Fast Bowling Thing In Jammu and Kashmir
Some bowlers have many tricks and techniques at their disposal to deal with batters at their will. Then there have been several sensational bowlers like Brett Lee, Shoaib Akhtar and Shaun Tait and so on—when it comes to the fast bowling stuff, who had the rush of adrenaline and thirst to play the chin music, but some failed, and some rose to the occasion.
Interestingly, that was their love-affair with batters over the turf before getting dispatched out of the park to lose the line and the length after trying hard in the wildness. They’ve toiled hard, suffered from several injuries, got operated and injected, threw boulders during practices and oozed blood for their respective countries to perform.
Such becomes the bitter-sweet story of a fast bowler when you dig deep as a reader or a writer. It engrosses you in sentence after sentence and paragraphs after paragraphs.
Meet the 35-year-old promising bowling all-round prospect Samiullah Beigh from Jammu and Kashmir’s summer capital Srinagar, who has been unique in his own way while having unerring accuracy and diligence, which has left an impact in several domestic seasons throughout his over a decade-old career.
His career in long domestic circuit remains a commendable achievement for a team, which hardly has practice sessions at home to get prepared for first-class cricket.
In 2010, Beigh was a part of the Indian Premier League Franchise Deccan Chargers, which was led by Australian flamboyant wicket-keeper batsman Adam Gilchrist, but he didn’t even get to play a single game.
In the third gear, coming back to some serious fast bowling thing, they’ve clocked over 90MPH and created a huge amount of excitement during the matches while believing in lethal pace. But now that has become the norm in the international circuit, nothing to boast about that in general, but it became a huge thing which emerges with such pace from domestic circuit.
India is yet to see a bowler who could regularly clock at 150kmph while swinging the ball both ways.
Different from all of this, the tall and muscular Soura-born Beigh has been unlucky throughout his 14-year-old career to cement his place in the national side after being overlooked most of the times when he came so close but was yet so far to achieve the target.
In the hustle and bustle, Beigh had made an outstanding mark in his early days. He has been fast in bowling and equally handy with the bat for Jammu and Kashmir Ranji Team.
At Last, Samiullah Beigh Earns The Reward:
There is a science behind everything whether you’re sending down the ball, flashing the willow, or taking a stunner on the boundary line, but it’s the passion and will to perform that brings you to make it all possible and Beigh has been falling into the same line to excel, but again, the fate came into play.
Beigh, who made his Ranji Trophy debut in 2003, has the rhythm in his run-up while composing the lyrics of his career with the ball. He’ll be remembered for the long-time in cricket after breaking the long-standing record of veteran bowler and former J&K cricket team coach Abdul Qayoom Bhagaw, who had 152 wickets to his name in 47 first-class matches.
In 2011-12, Beigh played his first match for North Zone under the captaincy of Virat Kohli in Deodhar Trophy.
In 2008-09 Ranji Trophy, he took 25 wickets in five games before getting selected for North Zone for the first time.
In 2009-10 first-class season, Beigh bagged 24 wickets and scored 250 runs in five matches and got selected in the North Zone squad for the second consecutive time.
In 2014, he again got selected for North Zone and played his first Duleep Trophy match under the tutelage of Gautam Gambhir alongside Yuvraj Singh and Virender Sehwag, and bagged three wickets in the game.
Beigh was nursed by Kashmir University Coach Abdul Qayoom Khan when the latter was studying in College in 2001.
Achieving some feat with aplomb, it was one of the best performances from Beigh in this year’s Ranji Trophy 2016-17 season. The right-arm bowler bagged 28 wickets, which included two five-wicket hauls and amassed 325 runs, including his maiden hundred (109*) and a half-century at an average of 32.5 while batting lower down the order.
In the recently concluded season for J&K, he remained unbeaten in seven innings to provide some late-order resurgence to his side.
Played Like Samiullah And Bowled Like A Beigh:
Some cricketers need opportunities to shine far and bright, but some are supposed to play and keep performing to end their career just like that and Beigh, so far, has been one among them. He has that sound technique in batting to play at any position in any form of the game for his team which is icing on the cake.
In 2014 Vijay Hazare tournament, in the space of eight balls, Beigh dismissed Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, and Unmukt Chand which turned the match on its head and J&K won by two wickets against a star-studded Delhi side, which saw his bowling figures as 3 for 35. He also scored 20 not out.
Following the same year, while playing in the Duleep Trophy for North Zone under the tutelage of Gambhir, Beigh was asked to open the bowling for the Zonal team.
From The Pacer To Teacher At MRF Pace Foundation:
In 2006, Beigh was selected for the major camp in MRF Pace Foundation on the recommendation of the then Indian selector VB Chandrasekhar. He trained under veteran fast bowlers Dennis Lillee for six months at MRF alongside Varun Aaron, Dhawal Kulkarni, S Sreesanth, and Ninad Chaudhary.
Bright student Beigh was doing his Masters in Structural Engineering when he joined the MRF Pace Foundation. He carried his books to study in the evening hours mostly after practice sessions. Interestingly, fast bowler Dhawal Kulkarni, Varun Aaron joined the latter alongside another pacer Ninad Chaudhary from Maharashtra.
The pacer from J&K used to teach the trio particularly on Sundays which Beigh calls as ‘best of the moments’ of his life as a sports person.
“It was all about learning by doing and complete package of fun. We all remember those beautiful days,” Beigh remarked.
There is a huge following for sports in Kashmir valley and a team from the J&K State has made into the Ranji Trophy Quarterfinals in 2013 which was a memorable moment for both Beigh and the supporters back home.
Beigh played a pivotal role in taking J&K into the quarter-finals of the Ranji Trophy season 2013-14. He bagged 35 wickets and scored 355 runs before being felicitated by the then JKCA President Dr. Farooq Abdullah.
Being an engineering student, Beigh held the leather ball when he was 19. He cherished the plot of fast bowling while spending most of his time on a cricket field in his early days of cricket career that didn’t turn to a tragedy, but a treasure while swinging the pendulum between engineering-cum-cricket journey.
Beigh has demonstrated his bowling abilities on different tracks across India, and his success is gratifying which has been the J&K Ranji team’s hope for over several years. There seems no substitute for such cricketer who holds a decent record in Ranji fixtures for his state.
At the age of 18, Beigh was happy with the longer run-ups which usually used to be 15 paces, and there on he improved his bowling action over the maidans and streets at a place where cricketers’ posters had a much liking in its own course.
Impressive Beigh has been pumping his fists to steam in and roll his fingers gently over the ball to learn the nitty-gritty of the game which has a practical impact. He became an artist as a bowler while having the nippy pace and bounce and ability to swing the ball both ways to make it difficult for the batters.
The right-arm fast bowler played first club season from Kashmir University in 2002 before getting selected for the Vijay Hazare Trophy.
Beigh’s story is a fascinating one, and he is among the one cricket needs. He is eyeing to lay down a turf wicket in Srinagar to help out youngsters.
In 59 first-class matches, Beigh bagged 156 wickets which included eight five-wicket hauls and five four-wicket hauls. He scored 1710 runs at an average of 22.80 while batting at number 7 and eight which included one ton and five fifties.
After the apathy of state cricket administration in failing to provide best for the cricketers, the internal bickering in past between the two factions in the state-led cricket body has ruined the talent which has affected the cricketers in Jammu and Kashmir.
In an exclusive interview with Sportzwiki.com, Beigh talks about his career – the lack of media coverage to expose the favouritism in state cricket while figuring out the requirement of much-needed facilities in Kashmir region. He urges that there is a need of academies at the district level to boost cricket in the valley before throwing some light on the niceties of the game he has experienced during his 14-year-long career.
Excerpts from the interview with Jammu and Kashmir first-class cricketer Samiullah Beigh:
TIM: First of all, let’s start by congratulating you for becoming the highest wicket-taker for Jammu and Kashmir in Ranji Trophy. How’s the feeling?
SB: Of course the feeling is great. Qayoom Paji has been a great bowler and to surpass him while he being the team coach is excellent. He has had a lot of contribution in my success lately, whenever he has been with the team.
TIM: Other than him who else has contributed to your first-class career?
SB: My mother deserves a huge credit as I was barred by my father from playing cricket (to focus on studies) and my mother used to pass my kit bag from the window when Dad used to guard the doors.
Secondly, my first coach Mr Abdul Qayoom Khan who carved the player out of an ordinary boy. He is the best in business to mend me when I was all raw.
Thirdly, Mr Iqbal Ahmad Shah, my first club captain deserves every bit of praise for whatever I have achieved. The person used to pick and drop me from my home besides providing all sorts of expensive cricketing gear, which I couldn’t afford during those days. Even now (without letting me know), he is the happiest person whenever I achieve anything bigger. And last but not the least, all my friends who have been around me all the time.
TIM: Tell our readers a bit about yourself and how you started playing cricket and what had kept you motivated during difficult times and why you chose only cricket?
SB: I am from an educated background and sport itself has no connection to my family at all.
You can say I am the first rebel. I qualified Common Entrance Test in 2000 and went into Regional Engineering College (now National Institute of Technology) in Srinagar, for my engineering studies. I didn’t play enough cricket when I was quite young to talk about, but I have some tremendous on-field moments during my first-class career.
But it was during my college days that I was spotted by my University coach Mr Abdul Qayoom Khan and from there on I got into serious cricket.
I had played my first club season from Kashmir University in 2002 and got directly inducted into the Vijay Hazare Trophy, and the journey started.
I was very poor at other sports, and secondly, I had no time to think about any another sport seriously.
TIM: Tell us about the expectations, lessons, passion, and how you felt dearly and enjoyed being involved in the game?
SB: Frankly speaking, I have had no expectations at all from my home or myself. It started just as a fun and gradually turned into passion as I kept going up the ladder while learning through the toughest of the phases during my 14-year long career.
I’ve been following cricket a lot since my childhood days. Pakistan veteran Wasim Akram and West Indies bowling sensation Courtney Walsh have been my all time favourites.
The day Walsh announced his retirement I felt unfortunate as I had a dream of starting my international career alongside him and wanted to play against him. See such was the passion.
TIM: How do you look back at your cricketing career so far and what did you learn from the domestic cricket? Also, how you see cricket in Kashmir?
SB: As far as I am concerned, I feel I was so near, but yet so far from my ultimate goal which was to play cricket at international level.
Ironically, this is the title of my autobiography which is coming out soon, in which I have shared my honest experiences of 14 long years of domestic cricket, playing with the topmost players and how I managed to earn their respect.
TIM: Give us a feel of your autobiography “So near yet so far”?
SB: I had the hobby of writing diaries from my childhood, and I have almost every day of my Ranji Trophy career happenings written in my journal. My biography is merely a compilation of my diary writings which gives an insight about how I felt during my highs like MRF pace foundation stint and J&Ks road to quarterfinals.
It also includes my several selections in Zonal teams and what went wrong, the inside story of 2012 boycott of Kashmir players against former Indian spinner Bishen Singh Bedi Sb.
Finds the mention of my comeback in Ranji’s next season when everybody had written me off followed by last year’s snub and this Ranji season’s comeback in the J&K State team.
TIM: In contrast to the times you grew up in and played, do you feel the cricket has improved in Kashmir?
SB: I am still playing. But yes, the game is changing fast from the time I started. It has turned upside down in terms of skill levels, intensity and commitment levels which is incredible.
TIM: Apart from achieving all this, you did your B. Tech in Civil Engineering from NIT Srinagar, qualified GATE and did Masters in Structural Engineering from NIT again and then qualified Jammu and Kashmir Public Service Commission. Tell us how much has sports been beneficial in your studies? How much help did you get from NIT Srinagar in your studies while you were away playing?
SB: To be honest I got neither any help nor any kind of relaxation from NIT Srinagar. Maybe, I was mostly at the receiving end, for being a sportsman. The exposure of our teaching faculty in general vis-à-vis sports is very poor. They think sports is meant only for those who are not good at studies and I had to run from pillar to post to convince them that I play cricket, but I am equally a good student.
I remember when I missed my internal exams during my first semester as I was on state duty; I had to literally beg before a teacher for the re-conduction of my exams. And from there on, I made it clear to myself not to miss an exam, and of course this is one of the biggest reasons that I played only four Ranji Trophy matches during my four years of B.Tech course.
On this part, it is very unfortunate, and I hope Government of Jammu and Kashmir take some steps in this direction to ensure that no sportsperson goes through the agony again.
TIM: How difficult it was to balance your cricket and studies. How you managed the things?
SB: It was indeed challenging but not impossible. I had a habit of playing during the day and studying late into the nights that helped a lot. Also, my friends at NIT used to teach me when I used to come back from tours.
Also on every tour, including six-month Camp at the MRF pace foundation, I took my engineering books with me and used to study whenever I had the time.
On the flip side of things, I believe if I would have concentrated on excelling in just one field, I may have played for India or might have been an IAS officer. But whatever almighty has made me achieve I am content and happy with it as well.
TIM: Do you think the game would be breathing new life in Kashmir when the fault lies within the administration?
SB: Surely, Jammu and Kashmir Cricket Association has not done what it ought to, since ages.
The corruption, infighting, club politics has ruined our state cricket. Just one year back, we seniors managed some brilliant wins for the state, and it appeared the J&K cricket was on the right track, but curtsy absurd selection policies of JKCA, we have slid down the barrel again and presently are at the bottom of the ladder in first-class.
TIM: How do you see the structure of cricket in different colleges across Valley and what has to be done?
SB: In most of the schools and colleges, cricket is in a pathetic state. No specific sports oriented steps have been taken neither by a government nor by any private sector in the recent past.
We need to have academies in every district of the state to make an assembly line of the young cricketers to make their career secure. And there is no dearth of talent, to say the least.
I feel flabbergasted when a parent comes to me with his talented child for guidance, and I have nothing but this sentence to say, ‘send your ward to an academy outside the state or switch to some other sport’.
TIM: Has media played its part to cover cricket adequately? If not why and how things can be made better?
SB: Honestly, no. Barring few exceptions – media reporting has been nothing but mere eyewash. I wonder our local print and electronic media cover and update about cricket matches between two Mohalla teams in the remotest part of the valley, but yet fail to shed light on favouritism in state cricket, lack of much-required facilities and major reasons of downfall of cricket at the state level particularly in Kashmir region.
TIM: Now that you are highest wicket-taker from Jammu and Kashmir, what’s your next immediate goal? What are your plans and when you are going to call it a day?
SB: My immediate goal is to reach 200 first-class wickets and 3,000 first-class runs.
I haven’t thought much about it, but I have a dream of setting up an independent academy and for that I am in talks with few sponsors to make it a huge success.
TIM: Has JKCA never come in your all out support as they did to certain other players? Even now, nobody seems to be acknowledging your achievement of breaking the decade-old record of becoming highest wicket taker?
SB: I don’t know. Generally, at times I have felt lack of support, but later I took it in my stride and learned to live with it. To be honest, some officials in JKCA have been encouraging me throughout my career, but as a cricket governing body I have always felt that JKCA never owned me. May be they expected a lot more from me before they could own me up.
Tahir Ibn Manzoor
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