It’s been a sweet and sour fortnight for Saurashtra batsman Sheldon Jackson. He was blessed with a newborn a day before winning the Ranji Trophy against Bengal, had planned a vacation to Spain to cherish the victory but the coronavirus pandemic locked him up in Bhavnagar.
Jackson scored 809 runs in the season. And on the fifth day of the Ranji final, he could feel the effect of COVID-19 as no spectators were allowed at the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium in Rajkot.
“I wanted to stay at home for a few days with my son and then, go to Spain for a holiday. It was a seven-month long season and a break would have been refreshing but I haven’t stepped out of my living room in the past one week. The bookings were almost done. We got saved actually [as the death toll in Spain stands at 9,000+ due to the virus]. We had also thought of going to Goa but the lockdown happened,” he told
Besides crippling the global economy, the virus has hit the sports industry with major tournaments being cancelled or postponed. Among cricketers, Kane Richardson and Lockie Ferguson had to go through testing after returning to base from South Africa and Australia.
“Thankfully, there are no cricketers infected. If it had to happen, it would have happened. Some case or the other would have been highlighted but till now, we haven’t read anything about it,” Jackson is relieved.
Jackson is a fitness freak. He is the only cricketer in Saurashtra to have a six-pack. Sensing a lockdown, he ordered his equipment in advance to set up a home gym. “You cannot be sure how long this lockdown is going to be. There are chances that it will go on beyond 21 days. If you are at home, no matter how much you want, you will feel relaxed. And when in that mood, you will not realise when you will start putting on that extra kilo. I thought it would be better to stock up, so whenever anything goes wrong, I will keep training.”
The big-hearted Jackson has also been distributing food and essentials to migrant workers and the needy in Bhavnagar.
Memories from final
Playing its fourth final in eight years, Saurashtra brought the Ranji Trophy back to the land of Ranjitsinhji, on whom the tournament is named, after 73 years.
Jackson had a stellar season but he feels the credit should also go to the collective effort of the side. “It was a collective effort from someone or the other in every match. They started contributing at the right time from the knockout stages. That won us the title,” he said.
There was a lot of talk on the nature of the surface after Bengal coach Arun Lal expressed his disappointment on day one. “I don’t know what talk was on during the wicket. All I read in the media was that the Bengal camp was not really happy with the wicket. But if you see, Saurashtra’s two main batsmen got out with the ball keeping low, that’s me and Cheteshwar Pujara. We should be fussing and crying about it rather than anyone else, but we did not make any statement about it during the game. That is not in your hands. We did not complain because it is the curator’s job.
“There was an odd-ball going down and an odd-ball jumping up. That was happening from both the sides. It is not that it was a rank turner and we had a good spinner who ran away with the game. Even three of their batsmen scored 50+ runs – Wriddhiman Saha, Anustup Majumdar and Sudip Chatterjee. If the wicket would have been that poor, there wouldn’t be 400+ runs,” he said.
As of now, Jackson is hoping that the Saurashtra Premier League goes as per schedule later this year so that he can return to cricket soon.
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