Jaffer: Adapting to all formats is a challenge for youngsters

The former India opener says the current generation of cricketers need to be two-dimensional.

Veteran Wasim Jaffer, who is doubling up as a senior pro and mentor of Vidarbha cricket team in Hyderabad.   -  V. V. SUBRAHMANYAM

The ageing Wasim Jaffer’s youthful exuberance will leave even the younger cricketers in awe of him given his undiminishing passion for the sport even at the age of 39 and after two decades of first-class cricket.

“The biggest challenge for the current generation of cricketers is to adapt to all the three formats. You have to be a two-dimensional cricketer. Unless you are a great player you cannot be unidimensional anymore,” says Wasim Jaffer, the leading run-getter (10665) in Ranji Trophy.

“You cannot just be a one-day or a T20 or a Test cricketer otherwise you will have sit out for half of the season. You have to give the captain the choice as one who can chip in with the bat and the ball too,” says Jaffer, who is doubling up as a senior pro and mentor for Vidarbha (playing in the Vijay Hazare Trophy here).

“Look at the great examples of Kohli, Steve Smith, Warner. You need not play fancy shots all the time. You have to be smart to maintain a decent strike rate. And, I think the current players are pretty smart to understand this,” Jaffer said.

Read: K.L. Rahul - 'South Africa was a whole new challenge'

Jaffer’s advice to the World Cup (under-19) winning squad members is to just focus on their cricket and worry about doing well out there in the middle. “They should not bother about anything else. Then, the rest will fall in place. Age is on their side. Aim to play for India. The greatest respect from world over comes for scoring runs in Test cricket,” says Jaffer.

“I am still enjoying my game. I know I am not a fighting fit player. But, I can manage certain things and I have time and enough motivation to keep going,” he says.

“When I am fit why not keep playing? I have enough motivation to do so. Yes, I think I have got lot of age to do things like coaching and commentary at a later stage,” he said.

“Well, lot of players of my generation have retired. But, I enjoy my cricket, especially with Vidarbha now. There is lot of satisfaction and joy when you see the progress of these players,” Jaffer says

On declining to charge any fees for playing Vidarbha, Jaffer reminds: “Honestly, money has never dominated my decision making. I came to Vidarbha to enjoy, didn’t want to go to any place for the sake of money.”

“Coming to Vidarbha to create the winning culture was the objective. Winning Ranji for the first time and helping these youngsters gave me great joy. And, that is how I want to enjoy my cricket now,” he says.

“Generally, Indian cricket has progressed very well. Infrastructure in states like Andhra, Kerala and even in Vidarbha has improved dramatically. That is why these teams have picked up so well, produced India players,” he said.

On Chandrakant Pandit’s role in Vidarbha’s successful Ranji campaign, Jaffer reveals that the former brought lot of discipline, good work ethics even while being strict with the boys.

On Indian cricket, Jaffer confesses it is very difficult to make a comeback into Indian cricket given the kind of bench strength available.

“No doubt, it is very hard on players like Jadeja and Ashwin to miss out. But again, the team management feels the wrist spinners are the way to look forward. And, both Chahal and Kuldeep are producing the results,” he felt.

“But, I must tell you both Ashwin and Jadeja are quality players and there are no replacements for them in Test cricket,” Jaffer said.

On Kohli’s captaincy, Jaffer says his fitness system benefited many. “Some pros and cons are there no doubt. But, he got more pluses for sure.”

“Yes, you need some to make these adjustments to adapt to all three formats. After all we (players) are not machines. And, this lack of time in preparations actually dented India’s chances of winning Test series in South Africa,” he says.

“If only you have played a two-Test series instead of the three-match series and had 10 to 15 days of preparations, I am sure we would have won the series given the kind of talent available in this Indian team,” Jaffer observed. “After all, we were in South Africa battling out for the No.1 and No.2 rankings and not against a weaker opposition,” he added.

On the exciting pacer from Vidarbha, Rajneesh Gurbani, Jaffer feels that the latter needs to gain that extra yard in pace. “But, his ability to swing the ball is magnificent. Very soon, he will be ready to play for India,” he concluded.

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