Is he too old to play Test cricket? He will be 35 next month. Is he out of form? He has batted better than Sachin Tendulkar has this year for Mumbai. Is he a slow mover on the field? He’s certainly not slower than Gautam Gambhir or Ravichandran Ashwin - to name two of the handful of slow movers in the Indian Test side. Does he have an attitude problem? That's hard to tell.
Jaffer was accused by some of being laid-back and maybe that's the only problem with him. Perhaps all he needs to work on is acting enthusiastic and improving his footballing skills in order to find a place in the Indian Test team.
Jokes apart, Jaffer is, in the eyes of most conventional thinkers, probably too old to represent India. What to do... we do have this obsession with youth. Not that there is anything very wrong with that. That said, what's the harm in mentioning Jaffer in an argument by Ashish Magotra in an earlier piece on these pages - giving a not-so-old-timer like Jaffer another year or two in the Indian team?
If there is no long term prospect in sight to take Gambhir's or Virender Sehwag's place at the top of the batting order (and it's high time somebody did take one of the two places held down by them for an unjustifiably long period of time), there is some merit in looking at the matter on a year-to-year basis. It's the way many good companies are run. And there is a lot in common between a company and the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).
The business thinkers among you will surely know that not all decisions have to be long term plays. Some can be nothing more than sound tactical maneuvers made to keep things ticking until the resources needed to formulate a more visionary strategic move are identified. A good working unit can certainly be forged using players that are being groomed to serve the team for a long time and others who are there to fill in for the ones firing blanks for the time being.
Jaffer, at the ripe but not-rotten age of 35, might be the right man to handle the job of opening the batting, until Gambhir rediscovers his form or someone else younger or better makes his presence felt. Considering Jaffer knows he doesn't have too many more years left in him to play for India, he will, in all likelihood, be extra determined to do well and may not turn out to be as laid-back as his critics back then made him out to be.
This 'last roll of the dice' attitude could prove to be an invaluable asset in a team which doesn't seem have too many players hungry and skilled enough to do well in the longest and most testing form of the game.
Rahul Dravid, for one, was a huge fan of Jaffer's, which must mean Jaffer was, and is, a hardworking fellow. Dravid would never support someone who wasn't. In fact, Dravid liked Jaffer so much he even picked him for his Bangalore IPL team! And no, I'm not suggesting Jaffer should be part of India's T20 team. Just that the quiet, unassuming, modest, Dravid-like (and Dravid liked) chap deserves a final chance to play for India.
He certainly has the numbers to prove it. And his technique is sound. What does India have to lose by giving him another shot? Gambhir? Well, Gambhir, despite what Mahender Singh Dhoni keeps droning on about the need for a left-handed opener, has pretty much lost it. Sehwag? Well, Sehwag has been caught whispering not-so-softly to his friends in the media that he wouldn't mind going back to the safety and comfort of the middle order. So why not give the opening slots to Jaffer and Ajinkya Rahane? Dravid would certainly approve.
Oh and how do I know Rahul Dravid likes the idea of Rahane as opener? Simple. Dravid picked him for his IPL team.
The writer tweets @Armchairexpert. You can follow him if you’re into that sort of thing.
First Published On : Jan 28, 2013 16:49 IST