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Regional rift cloud on J&K cricket

Srinagar, Nov. 24: The divide between Kashmir and Jammu appears to have hit the state’s cricket team with all the players from the Valley boycotting today’s Ranji Trophy match against Andhra.

The boycotting Kashmiri players have blamed Jammu and Kashmir’s Cricket Association officials for “biased selection”. They said undeserving players from Jammu were included in the team.

“It is the first time in our cricket history that no player from Kashmir is included in the team,” said one of the players, who boycotted the Ranji match that started in Jammu today.

“Some of our top players from Kashmir like Abid Nabi were axed and some seniors like Arshad Bhat were forced to retire ahead of the match. Some association members from Jammu even harassed us. They want to get rid of the Kashmiri players,” a player said on condition of anonymity.

“Seven players out of 15 in the squad are from Kashmir and the rest from Jammu. Last year, only three players from Kashmir played. These things have been happening for years. The players from both Jammu and Kashmir are united but some officials are trying to create this divide.”

Skipper Samiullah Beigh, who also boycotted today’s match, said there is nothing like Jammu versus Kashmir in the team, thereby refusing to give a regional colour to the crisis.

“But some undeserving players from Jammu have found place in the team. We want a fair selection, even if most players from Jammu are selected. The players from Jammu are afraid to talk against the officials and that is why it looks like there is some regional divide in the team,” he said.