Gurez remains covered in snow during the winter

The mountains and valleys of Kashmir has always been known for snowfall in picturesque setttings. The last few years have, however, seen the emergence of an exciting and popular trend during the winter months.

We're talking about snow cricket here, something that is now catching the interest of international celebrities as well.

Over the past few weeks, social media has been flooded with the pictures and videos of youngsters playing cricket on snow in Gurez valley of North Kashmir's Bandipora district.

The pictures first started emerging in 2020, where local youth were seen playing snow cricket. The Internet was taken by awe and everybody was all praises about the scenic beauty of Gurez.

Such sights continue to be talk of the town and have invited the attention of international celebrities like cricketers and actors.

Australian batting star Marnus Labuschagne, who plays internationally for the men's national team and domestically for Queensland, on Thursday shared a video of young boys playing cricket on snow and tweeted, “How good is this”.

He was reacring to the video shared by another celebrity, a Pakistani actor and singer, who tweeted:"I wanna play cricket here with these guys....this looks so much fun..”

These local youth are yet to receive any support from the administration; they have local support but they believe that's not enough.

"Gurez is known for its beauty all over but its cricket also needs the deserved attention," said Tabraiz, an area resident.

With the videos and pictures garnering a huge support and response from people from all walks of life on social media, the youth are hoping that they receive attention from BCCI (the body that governs cricket in India) and international players.

Taking to Twitter, a young boy tweeted: "Hope @BCCI @BCCIdomestic @SGanguly99 @IrfanPathan @ICC will support our youngsters to perform on national and international level. Gurez valley is full of talent needs little bit support from administration and Govt I assure starts will come from Gurez valley."

Last summer, Gurez witnessed a huge rush of tourists who wanted to enjoy the scenic beauty of the area.

Gurez remains snow bound and cut off during winter, mostly from December, due to heavy snowfall but it still fascinates people from world over by organizing snow cricket tournaments on frozen snow fields.

"We play snow cricket for three months of winters and we want to keep the world abreast with what we are doing through our cricket tournaments. We send out the pictures and video of our cricket to get support and keep updated about our activities," said Sameer, a cricketer.

So far, three cricket tournaments have been organised here.

"Youth are enthusiastic about the sport and are talented so they keep on organizing the matches. But they also want to attract the attention of administration towards them," said Nisar Ahmad, another local resident.

At present, some 300 boys are into playing snow cricket and almost all of them are big fans of West Indian cricket star Chris Gayle.

Even the cricket league being played right now in Gurez is named after Gayle.

Keen that Gurez becomes a hub of winter sports, area residents have urged the administration to start taking greater interest.

"Government has started winter sports activities at many places in the UT but Gurez is still lagging behind. Though summers were productive for Gurez in terms of tourism, sports isn't being considered as yet," Ahmad added.

There are many like him who assert that the area has the potential for winter games like snow skiing, ice hockey and various other games.

Gurez valley is located in the Himalayas, about 86 kilometres from Bandipora and 123 kilometres from Srinagar in northern Jammu and Kashmir.