Jammu & Kashmir's triumph over 40-time Ranji Trophy champions Mumbai will go down in history as one of the most famous upsets in India's domestic cricket annals. The valley team's triumph over the most decorated first-class team makes for an out-and-out against all odds story.
The J&K team celebrate their win over Mumbai at the Wankhede Stadium yesterday
The floods in September disrupted J&K's preparation to the season and most of their cricketers were busy with rescue work. All they had was a 15-day training camp at Nagpur before taking on Mumbai in their maiden entry to the Ranji Trophy Elite group.
Adding to their misery is the fact that the players are yet to be paid their match fees of the last season, where they surprised India's cricketing fraternity by reaching the quarter-finals. They are yet to get their Dearness Allowance (DA) for the 15-day camp in Nagpur before the Ranji season kicked off. Their DA for the Mumbai match is just Rs 500, half of what is given to other first-class teams, who stay at five-star hotels or avail good accommodation near the venue.
"Is Rs 500 sufficient in a city like Mumbai? Some of these players have lost everything in the floods. Imagine how they struggle to keep their cricket dreams alive," a source told mid-day after J&K's historic four-wicket win at the Wankhede yesterday.
A lot of players struggled to buy new kits after floods washed away most of their equipment. "There was no help from the state association (Jammu & Kashmir Cricket Association) to buy new kits. The players are just taken for granted," said a player.
JKCA provided only two sets of playing clothes for the season-opening four-day game. "At least four to six sets are required. We have to use our whites with utmost care," said a senior player.
Some players have not even received their state caps. "We don't feel we are part of a first-class cricket team; we are treated like gully cricketers," remarked another player.
The absence of a dining facility at the Sea Green hotel where they are put up, close to the Wankhede Stadium, has added to the team's woes. "The players have been going to a nearby restaurant for the last three days as there is no facility to dine in the hotel. The players need adequate rest after a day's play which they don't get," the source said.
Another senior player moaned about the travel arrangements. "During the limited overs tournaments at the start of the season, we had a six-hour halt at New Delhi while traveling from Chandigarh to Nagpur," a player said. Another player remarked: "Only the officials get their dues on time, but not the players! I don't think they (JKCA) take any pride in our performances. There is always an atmosphere of uncertainty in the team."
JKCA's General Secretary ML Nehru admitted there were problems and stressed that the association is looking into the delay concerning match fees. "The process of distribution of match fees has already started. The delay took place because of an accounting issue," Nehru said. Regarding the DA, he said: "We are not a rich association like Mumbai or Delhi. We don't get (to host) any international matches. We have to solely depend on BCCI subsidiaries to meet our expenses, but we have plans to hike the allowances."
Nehru assured that the clothing issue will be sorted out too: "We could not place the order in time (September) due to some internal scheduling issue. But that is done now and the attire will be distributed very soon."
The number of victories for J&K in Ranji Trophy. HP: 5, Services: 4 Kerala: 3, Haryana: 2, Assam: 2; Bihar, Jharkhand, Goa, Andhra & Mumbai 1 each