• Publish Date: Nov 10 2017 9:19PM
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  • Updated Date: Nov 10 2017 9:19PM

Meet the “speed guy” from the Kashmir Valley Abid Nabi, whose peak years, as a pace spearhead, have been ruined by some short-sighted officials of the Jammu and Kashmir Cricket Association (JKCA) because of the ugly club politics. 

Abid Nabi, Kashmir’s 31-year old speedster, debuted in India’s domestic First-class competition Ranji Trophy in 2004. Representing J&K state cricket team in 30 First-class matches he has claimed 108 wickets with six 5-fors and nine 4-fors. 

At that time, it was said that Kashmir’s Nabi broke former India test skipper Kapil Dev’s First-class record of getting to 100 wickets. According to record books, Nabi took lesser number of First-class innings to claim 100 wickets than Dev.

Incidentally, Abid Nabi hero worshiped Kapil Dev.  Nabi wanted to bowl like Dev and spank the red cherry to all parts of the park exactly like India’s former test cricketer would often do at international stage.

In his very first Ranji appearance against Ordisha in 2004 Abid Nabi took five wickets, four (79/4) in the first innings and a wicket (40/1) in the second innings. In First-class, his best bowling figures in an innings are 6/91 while in List-A, his best performance is 5/50. He made his List-A debut in 2005 against Delhi and claimed a 5-for. 

Even with impressive bowling stats at Ranji level, Nabi has not been part of the state cricket team for last five seasons because of petty club rivalry, political interference in the state’s premier cricketing body and also inflated egos of some JKCA officials. 

He last played in Ranji competition while representing Jammu and Kashmir against Goa in 2012 while his last List-A match was against Haryana in 2011 in which he scored unbeaten 40*. 

As a 20-year old young bowler, Nabi immediately made a statement with his speed and aggressive hitting ability. 

He was fast and furious and could regularly clock 140 plus kph. Alongside India’s then reputed pacers like S Sreesanth and Munaf Patel, he attended two conditioning camps at the prestigious MRF Pace Foundation’s in Chennai from where Australia’s legendary bowler Dennis Lillee recommended him to Indian team’s then Coach Greg Chappell.

In the nets at Mohali in Punjab, Nabi once bowled at India’s stylish test batsman VVS Laxman. Apparently, Laxman was very impressed with Nabi’s pace and aggression as a tearaway fast bowler.

“I always wanted to bowl fast and see fear in the eyes of batsmen on strike,” Abid Nabi told Kashmir Ink.

The focus was then shifted to Nabi’s physical fitness and running techniques. The trio comprising former coach Greg Chappel, Ian Frazer, then team India’s bio-mechanist, and a special trainer worked to improve Nabi’s fitness and line and length.

“As a speed guy, I always held Pakistan’s Shoaib Akhter and Australia’s Brett Lee in high esteem and obviously wanted to clock 160 kph with the ball in my hand,” he said.

A crestfallen Nabi is of the view that “my peak years have been ruined by the JKCA officials”. 

For last five Ranji seasons he has been excluded on the pretext of fitness. He was told to work hard on his fitness. Initially, there were some issues with fitness as he had suddenly gained some pounds. But he did not give up and got back to full fitness.

“I worked hard on my fitness. I played in all major cricket tournaments in the Kashmir Valley and also outside the state. In most competitions I was adjudged player of the tournament,” he said. 

“What else do I need to prove?”

Under Nabi’s captaincy, Mirza Gladiators won the Downtown Champions League (DCL) Championship in 2013. He was declared player of the tournament in the DCL’s first season.

Besides being a competent First-class player, Nabi is also widely known in cricketing circles as a proficient all-rounder in the shorter version of the game, T20s.

“From last three seasons I have won most Player of the Tournament awards in T20 format,” he said. 

In the last inter-state T20 North Zone competition in January 2017 Nabi claimed two wickets while conceding 35 runs against Services. Jammu and Kashmir lost that match by a thin margin of five runs. 

The Valley’s speed guy also represented Delhi Giants in 2005-06 in the now-defunct Indian Cricket League (ICL) in which he also bowled at Pakistan’s lazy elegance Inzamam-ul-Haq. 

Apart from playing for J&K in Ranji Trophy, he has been included in Duleep Trophy and Deodhar Trophy for North Zone.

In 2005, the swashbuckling right-arm pacer from Kashmir also played seven matches in Minor County for South Yorkshire in the United Kingdom in which he claimed 38 wickets. 

Away from competitive cricket at Ranji level Abid plays in competitive tournaments being organised within Jammu and Kashmir and in Kolkata, West Bengal. 

The Jammu and Kashmir State Sports Council (JKSSC) has appointed him as Junior Coache in recognition of his performance and contributions in sports. 

Given his focus on the game Nabi is not yet past his prime as a quality all-rounder. And his experience of playing at the Ranji level will only prove beneficial to Jammu and Kashmir cricket team, especially the up-and-coming crop of fast bowlers!