Being Ravindra Jadeja
“Sir Ravindra Jadeja or Ravindrasinh Anirudhsinh Jadeja (born 6 December 1988) is a philanthropist, a Nobel Prize winner, a double Laureus sportman of the year and the nearest human to being God. Other than that he is an Indian cricketer.”
Wikipedia had to lock the article on Ravindra Jadeja after it became evident that one of the readers obviously had a wicked sense of humour when it came down to describing someone who is easily the most hated Indian cricketer as of now.
The three-Test-old Saurashtra player, who blasted his way into the Test team on the back of two triple centuries in a single season, has become an internet phenomenon of late, albeit of the sort one would not want to pride oneself on. The cyberspace and most notably, social media, is inundated with parodies, jokes, memes and what not that cricket aficionados, as well as the ignoramuses, use relentlessly to express their ‘deep respect and love’ for Jadeja. Everything involving the cricketer (including his love for Audi cars, and the Hayabusa in his possession) seem to have become a matter of public interest and ridicule.
Ravindra Jadeja was brought into the squad as a batting all-rounder who could bowl a bit. In the first Test match of the Border-Gavaskar trophy at Chennai, where India piled on the misery of the Australian bowlers, the manner in which Jadeja was bowled by Pattinson without offering a shot became the source of amusement for many. Quips like ‘Jadeja falls 284 runs short of what would have been a fourth first-class triple-century’ (this came from a leading cricket portal) started doing the rounds and the joke went viral. Or how a special Parliamentary session was convened to decide on the official title to be conferred on him.
But that is just the tip of the iceberg. Most of these jokes tend to be ridiculous, failing to elicit a laugh at times, and at times bordering on the vulgar.
There have been a myriad of occasions when his inadequacies as a player were brought to the fore. True, each player has such shortcomings. But people tend to connect with his failures in an unprecedented way, taking to the internet to vent their views. His untimely presence in the middle in certain crunch situations hasn’t helped either. Be it the 2009 T20 world cup match against the English, where he got stuck in the middle after being sent up the order, unable to connect willow with the ball. Or the ODI match against Australia (the epic one in which Sachin Tendulkar scored an awe-inspiring 175) in which he failed to see India through. ‘When you have a knack of inviting trouble, you ought to be prepared to deal with the consequences’.
Some even impute his selection to his closeness to Dhoni, for Jadeja plays for the Chennai Super Kings in the IPL. For a batting all-rounder like Jadeja, it is quite remarkable to be selected (and persisted with) when there are bowlers who regularly bat better than him (or at least slug it out longer), and there are part timers who can roll their arm over more effectively.
But the irregularity of part-timers is what ostensibly works in his favour.
As a leading daily reported, ‘He is like a sofa-cum-bed. Everyone knows his inadequacies and it feels churlish to keep banging it in but what can you do?’
And this time around, he has managed to settle the matter conclusively in his favour. His batting has been nondescript to say the least. 10, 16 and 12 in three innings does not seem fit to match the stature of someone who boasts of three triple centuries in first class cricket. But with the ball in his hand he has done remarkably well, grabbing 17 wickets in 3 Test matches, second only to Ashwin’s 22. Most importantly, he has been able to put brakes on Clarke’s purple patch. With a century in the first Test followed by a score of 91 in the second, Clarke seemed set to run down the Indian bowling attack again. But the alarming regularity (good for India though) with which Jadeja has been able to produce a string of unplayable deliveries has ensured that nothing untoward happened (an oblique reference to India’s tour Down Under a year ago, Clarke inflicted wounds still oozing the drops of hurt pride).
Jadeja has become a necessity in a team that needs a player who can both bat and bowl. He is like a compromise arrangement, required to plug the leaks, workable in Indian conditions. But a few questions need to be answered: Will he survive against better teams (read South Africa, England et al)? Or will his woeful heroics with the bat provide the selectors with a reason to do away with him, and look toward Pathan, who does seem to bat better (at least when you are talking about international matches), and whose swing might come in handy in such off-shore conditions? (That is, if he manages to stay injury free in the meanwhile).