Friday, January 25, 2008

Help Wasim Jaffer

By John Cheeran
I’m sure every Indian cricket fan’s heart bleeds for Wasim Jaffer. The off-colour Indian opener is out of the XI for the Adelaide Test and that has been one of the decisions that the team management has got it right.
But the point is that how Jaffer has got it all wrong in six Test innings during India’s 2007-08 Australian tour?
Jaffer is not a dour opener, he has got some brilliant strokes on either side of the wicket. Jaffer loves to play his strokes though one-dayers are not his chosen field.
Only a few weeks ago he cracked a double century against Pakistan. Jaffer is not wont to run away from foreign tracks as he has got some solid runs in the West Indies and South Africa.
Now why this sudden affliction?
Rahul Dravid has been in all sorts of pressures in recent times—quitting captaincy and the tensions and contradictions in the Indian dressing room but what about Jaffer, the straight as an arrow Mumbaikar who generally stays away from the hunt for bigger games?
Well, Yuvraj Singh too has learnt a few lessons on how hard life can be, compared to cricket.
But Jaffer, never a flashy player on and off the field, is a trier. Not a foolhardy customer such as Virender Sehwag or Yuvraj. And that makes Jaffer’s struggles all the more harrowing.
Jaffer’s failure at the top has cost India the Australian series. The lack of solidity at top has taken the balance and rhythm out of the Indian batting lineup. And Australian bowlers have exploited such opportunities to the hilt.
I’m not a technical expert capable of advising Jaffer how to correct his stance, footwork and his grip. There are Sunil Gavaskars and Ravi Shastris of the world for such tasks.
But I’m naturally worried.
I have been fortunate to watch a young Jaffer in 1997 when the only time the Ranji Trophy final was played during the night at Gwalior and talk centered on how a boy from challenging economic background is knocking on the doors of the ultimate treasure in Indian life—on the doors of the Indian cricket team. Jaffer played some sublime shots on that night in Gwalior and those have not receded from the mind.
There are quite a few batsmen from the Bombay School of Batting who have failed to do justice to their potential including Sanjay Manjrekar and Vinod Kambli.
Help Wasim Jaffer.

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