Parveez Rasool hopes that his performance will encourage young players from Jammu and Kashmir to try harder and become better. © Wisden India

After an impressive domestic season, Parveez Rasool shot into the limelight when he picked up 7 for 45 for Board President’s XI against the touring Australians in Chennai. That he hails from Jammu & Kashmir, a relative cricketing outpost, only added to the mystique. He was then signed up by Pune Warriors India, thereby finding himself in a position to portray his skills before a wider audience. In a chat with Wisden India, Rasool – who calls himself a bowling allrounder — opened up on a wide array of topics, from his early days in J&K to handling the responsibilities that come with being a role model. Excerpts:

Tell us about your initiation into cricket.
I began with junior-level cricket, I started off at the Under-14 level. From there, it was a natural progression to the U-16, U-19 and U-22 levels, and on to the Ranji Trophy. My father played a bit of cricket, he was a good player. In fact, I come from a cricketing family. My older brother also plays Ranji Trophy cricket. When my father used to play, I would tag along and play with him.

I come from a town called Bijbehara, in Anantnag district. It’s a place which has produced some really good cricketers. Abdul Qayyum was my coach during my junior days. He has also played some really good cricket in Ranji Trophy. He’s been my coach from my Under-14 days, I started playing cricket watching him play.

You had a great domestic season with both bat and ball. What would you attribute it to?
I worked really hard before the season. There was a camp in Mohali, a specialised camp. There are such camps in every zone. All the coaches there helped me a lot, and I got to learn and practice a lot during the camp. It was a very good year for me.

How has Bishan Singh Bedi (the J&K coach last season) influenced your bowling?
The first time he watched me in the nets and saw my bowling action and release, he told me that I had a very clean action and that my release was very good, and that I was the best offspinner in Jammu & Kashmir. After that, he has always been motivating and encouraging me, saying I can do much better. He told me to believe in myself, that I could bowl to anyone and get anyone out. He said I could even get an India cap. After hearing someone like Bishan Singh Bedi say that to me, I decided to work even harder, not only on my bowling but on my batting as well.

This season has been great – 594 runs in seven matches, and 33 wickets. My bowling has panned out well, I got picked for India A (during England’s tour), and then for the Emerging bowlers and got to meet the Indian bowling coach while bowling in the nets for India. And then I got selected for the Board President’s XI team against Australians. I performed well in that match, getting seven wickets and scoring 36 runs.

What was the experience of bowling to the likes of Sehwag, Dhoni and Kohli. What kind of tips and guidance, if any, did you receive from them?
Raina bhai, Dhoni paaji, all of them encouraged me a lot. They made me feel really good and helped me a lot. I have only bowled to them on two occasions, first at the Kotla in Delhi and then in Mohali. I had a really good experience with the Indian team for those two-three days. I could learn a lot.

How is the situation back in Jammu & Kashmir, in terms of cricket?
Cricket is very popular in the state, but the problem is that the facilities aren’t that great. Unlike most other states where there are a lot of grounds, academies and good facilities, there isn’t too much of that in Kashmir. So the onus is on working hard ourselves. If you’re a professional cricketer there, then you have got to go to places like Delhi to prepare as our season starts in November. The problem is that in in November, you can’t play in Kashmir as it starts snowing. So yes, it’s hard work.

But it is definitely a very popular game. I’ve also done well, and I hope that will encourage younger players to try harder and become better.

How did you manage to focus on cricket in such a volatile area?
Growing up, I didn’t really face many problems. I was born in 1989, so I don’t know how it was earlier. The problem is actually the lack of facilities. There is a lot of talent, but not enough facilities and structure to condition that talent.

Whether you like it or not, you are now a role model for the people of your state and you, maybe, have more responsibility. How much will that impact the way you approach the game?
I get calls from parents saying I’ve become an idol for their children and that they would allow their children to play cricket. Our cricket is becoming better day by day. I was at some Under-19 matches and some of the boys performed really well there. The facilities remain a problem but I think and I hope that this year, we’ll see some improvement in the facilities.

Yes, I do have more responsibility now, and I’ll have to work even harder. I’ve become a role model for my state. In Jammu & Kashmir, whatever be the field, there is no shortage of talent, be it studies or sports. I’d like to tell the people of my state to work hard and show the world that we are no less than anyone else. We also have talent and we can do everything too. We just lack in one thing, which is why we’re lagging. Otherwise, there is no shortage in talent.

What next for Parveez Rasool?
My plan right now is to concentrate on the IPL. If I get a chance to play, then I’ll look to play well there. But my main goal is to get the India cap. This year has gone well. I hope, Insha Allah, to make my India debut this year itself.