Sheldon Jackson is quite particular about statistics. He doesn’t need to look at the score sheets or scroll down the internet to know how much he has scored throughout the season. Ask him an open-ended question like, “You amassed around 700-800 runs last season,” and the Saurashtra batsman will stop you even before you can complete the sentence, and firmly reply: “Eight hundred and eighty-six (886).”
That precisely defines his character — focussed and confident about his job.
The 33-year-old batsman — a veteran of 74 first-class fixtures for Saurashtra — has been one of its most consistent middle-order batsmen. So much so that there is also a popular joke in the Saurashtra camp that its batting campaign actually begins once Sheldon walks on to the crease.
That has been his impact on the team.
And this season, too, has been no different for him.
On Sunday, Sheldon brought up his third century of the season against Gujarat at the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium to not only help his team stand tall in the Ranji Trophy semifinal against Gujarat, but also to send out a strong message to the selectors who have so far looked through him.
RANJI TROPHY | SAU vs GUJ - DAY ONE REPORT
Coming in at a time when Saurashtra was in a tricky spot, after losing quick wickets, Sheldon partnered with Chirag Jani to forge a 103-run partnership, and like always, he looked calm and composed. Having finished the first day on 69, Sheldon knew it would be a challenge to keep the momentum going in the first session of the second day. But he stuck to his basics and went with the flow to play a fine innings of 103.
Though he got a reprieve as Parthiv Patel dropped a regulation catch on 82, Sheldon made sure there was no looking back.
No nod from the selectors
Despite being one of the most successful batsmen last season, Sheldon failed to make the cut for India A, leading to an outburst on Twitter . But then, ask him about the selection snub, and he prefers to play it wittily. “I don’t know [why I don’t get selected for India A] and I don’t want to get into all that, but next time, whenever you meet [the selectors], do ask them and if they give an answer, tell me as well.”
Having faced the snub for a while now, Sheldon has slowly come to terms with it and makes it clear that he hasn’t had a word with the selectors. “No, not formally, not even informally. I haven’t asked anyone why I am not getting picked.”
Does he feel strong competition is making things tougher for him? Sheldon looks all serious, and says: “How many players score 700-800 runs consistently every year, can you give me a record of that? How many such players are there in India? Not even a handful.”
Interestingly, on a day he scored yet another ton, national selector Sarandeep Singh could be spotted in the stands. Will consistent shows finally open the India A gates for the Saurashtra batsman? Only time will tell.
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