Former Chennai Super Kings (CSK) left-arm spinner Shadab Jakati has claimed that he doesn't have any regrets about not representing the Indian cricket team. He added that he is extremely grateful for everything cricket has given him.
Shadab Jakati is CSK's 8th-highest wicket-taker, with 48 scalps in 55 games at an economy rate of 7.7. He had a highly successful domestic career as well, picking up 275 wickets in 92 FC matches and 93 wickets in 82 List A matches.
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In an exclusive interview with Sportskeeda, Shadab Jakati opened up on a variety of topics, including his domestic career, his coaching aspirations and his experiences in the Indian Premier League (IPL).
When asked if he feels a tinge of regret that an India cap eluded him, Shadab Jakati shed light on the factors in play at the time and emphatically stated that he is satisfied because he gave it everything he had.
"I've been asked this question a lot of times. I don't have any regrets. I'm grateful to God for whatever opportunities I got. I gave my best and that gives me great satisfaction. For me, I was very close to playing for India but I was coming from a smaller association which doesn't have much backing. I tried my best and unfortunately it didn't work out for me."
After making his debut for Goa in a List A game against Madhya Pradesh in the 1998/99 season, Shadab Jakati went on to become a staple of the side across formats. The left-arm spinner hung up his boots in December 2019, but not before establishing himself as the greatest player to have emerged from the small coastal state.
Shadab Jakati highlighted his immense accomplishments in domestic cricket and the IPL. He stated that his only objective now is to give back to the cricketing community.
"I'm the only player from Goa who has played almost 10 consecutive years in the IPL, and 23 years of first-class cricket, finishing as the most-capped player and the highest wicket-taker. I'm proud of myself. I've made my parents proud, and their happiness is all that matters to me. Cricket has given me so many things - recognition, fame, money. I just want to give back to the game in whatever way possible till my last breath."
Since retiring from all forms of cricket, Shadab Jakati has been busy pursuing a career in coaching. He recently completed the Fast Track Level 2 course, which was made available by the NCA and its head Rahul Dravid to international cricketers or domestic cricketers who've played over 75 FC matches.
"It's been a wonderful learning experience. It's a great initiative that has been taken up by the NCA and Rahul Dravid for former Test and first-class cricketers, and it was very well conducted. There was a lot of reading material - sometimes, as players, we think we know everything. But there are so many other aspects involved. I'm really looking forward to that."
Shadab Jakati has already dabbled in coaching and administrative roles. He first took up the assistant coach role under Stephen Fleming with the Edmonton Royals in the 2019 GT20 Canada, and then served as the director of cricket operations for the Colombo Kings in the 2020 Lanka Premier League.
Both roles were great learning experiences for Shadab Jakati, who welcomed the challenges he had to face head-on.
"The two were completely different roles. One was under Stephen Fleming, who I've worked with for 7 years at CSK. It was all about bringing my experience, and keeping the dressing room happy and comfortable. It was almost like being part of the IPL, but you have to keep thinking as a coach. Being an administrator was a different challenge - dealing with the COVID situation, the Sri Lanka Cricket Board and the sponsors. Both were amazing learning experiences."
"Rahul Dravid and Sourav Ganguly are taking Indian cricket in the right direction" - Shadab Jakati
Various former cricketers, such as renowned commentator L Sivaramakrishnan, have been vocal about the fact that the Indian team needs a spin-bowling coach.
When asked if he believes the Indian team needs a spin coach, Shadab Jakati stressed on the importance of appointing specialists at the international level.
"The BCCI wants to bring a lot of Indian coaches into the system at the top level. The likes of Wasim Jaffer, Ajay Ratra, Hrishikesh Kanitkar and Anil Kumble are already part of IPL teams. We, as seniors, need to use our potential and help the upcoming cricketers."
"I believe you need specialists at the highest level. Rahul Dravid made a statement about bringing permanent coaches for the India A and India U-19 teams. That's also another great initiative. Rahul Dravid and Sourav Ganguly are taking Indian cricket in the right direction."
Shadab Jakati on Suyash Prabhudessai representing Goa in IPL 2021
In the 2021 IPL player auction held on February 18, the Royal Challengers Bangalore picked Goa batsman Suyash Prabhudessai. The 23-year-old became the fourth player from the state to be part of an IPL franchise, after Swapnil Asnodkar, Saurabh Bandekar and of course Shadab Jakati.
Shadab Jakati, who himself has played for Virat Kohli's side, had a few words of advice for Prabhudessai.
"Yes, I spoke to him about my experiences in the IPL. He wanted a couple of good bats, I had given him Suresh Raina's bat [laughs]. I told him how important it is to enjoy your game and express yourself. He's a good, hard-working guy, and a fearless cricketer. I just told him to be original. There will be pressure, but pressure is good because it gets the best out of you. I hope that he gets a chance soon, and I'm sure that he'll do well."
While Goa is a small state in which the cricket season is hampered by climate and lack of exposure, enough IPL-level cricketers haven't been produced despite the obvious riches of talent. Shadab Jakati highlighted that cricketers from Goa don't get enough match practice in varied conditions, and outlined how the team can raise its profile at the domestic and IPL level.
"We have always been a good side in the shorter formats, because we have raw talent in Goa. But unfortunately, the players don't get enough match practice. Players from Karnataka, Delhi and Mumbai - they play a lot of cricket throughout the season. There hasn't been much cricket in Goa over the last few years, so we lack a lot of match practice."
Goa had mixed fortunes in the 2021 domestic white-ball season. In the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, they won 3 matches out of 5 in a tricky Elite Group D consisting of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Saurashtra. The Vijay Hazare Trophy, however, didn't go to plan as they managed only 1 win in 5 games.
"I believe, unless and until you play enough matches, you won't be at your best. That's where players from other states, Kerala and Andhra for example, have the edge over us. The more you play in different conditions, the more you improve. Most of our players don't go to other states and play league cricket, and that doesn't improve their game much."
Recently, Indian cricket has seen a number of players switch domestic teams in search of better opportunites. But Goa was - and still is - very close to Shadab Jakati's heart, and he never seriously considered playing for a different team despite having a number of offers on the table.
"My heart has always been in Goa. I wanted to do something big for Goa. I wanted them to qualify, which we did by reaching the quarter-finals against Bengal in 2009-10. That season, I had the opportunity to play with Gujarat and Saurashtra, but I'd been playing for Goa all my life and wanted to give something to the state. I never considered any other offers seriously."
After bringing a stellar domestic and IPL career to a close, Shadab Jakati is all set for the next chapter of his cricketing life. The 40-year-old has taken to coaching and administrative assignments like a duck to water, and it won't be long before we see him make a mark in that department as well.