Wasim Jaffer: ‘Selectors need to think out of the box’

These days, to play in the IPL seems imperative to be noticed by “a lot of bigger eyes” for selection in the national team, says the domestic batting great.

Faiz Fazal, the Vidarbha captain, played his first and only international for India in 2016.   -  S SUDARSHAN

Promising talents from Vidarbha need to be given more opportunities at the India ‘A’, IPL, and Duleep Trophy levels so they can showcase their capabilities, batting stalwart Wasim Jaffer has said.

Despite the team’s success in the Ranji Trophy in the last two seasons, few of its players have played at higher levels. Fast bowler Rajneesh Gurbani had been selected to represent India ‘A’ and overlooked after its tour of New Zealand in 2018-19. Umesh Yadav has played for the national team intermittently in the last few years; his last participation in an international contest was a Twenty20 against Australia in February.

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Faiz Fazal, the captain, played his first and only international for India in 2016.

According to Jaffer, the players’ IPL snub is a big disappointment. Besides Umesh, none of the other players from the 2018-19 squad have played more than 12 matches in the league.

“None of the Vidarbha players get selected in the IPL. That’s a major setback for them. Players like Akshay Wakhare and Akshay Karnewar never got a chance to showcase their skill. They have good performances but not at the IPL level which has a lot of bigger eyes,” Jaffer told Sportstar.

“Faiz Fazal scored runs consistently, but he hasn’t got the opportunity. It surprises me; he has fitness, runs against good teams when it matters. [Aditya] Sarwate just had a handful of opportunities. Ganesh Satish is not even in the Duleep Trophy. And [Akshay] Karnewar's exclusion really surprises me; he’s played some important knocks, and performed really well in the Ranji Trophy final and the Irani Trophy,” Jaffer pointed out.

Four players from the State were among the 44 selected in the Duleep Trophy – Fazal, Wadkar, Sarwate and Wakhare. All four had played well in the 2018-19 Ranji Trophy; wicketkeeper Wadkar averaged 60.41 with the bat, while left-arm spinner Sarwate emerged as one of the highest wicket-takers (55 scalps).

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Commenting on the Duleep Trophy selection, the 41-year-old Jaffer, who himself scored a bucketful of runs (1,031, in 11 matches) to steer Vidarbha to the title last season, said: “They have picked themselves. No surprise. Selectors should also have considered Karnewar and Satish. Gurbani is perhaps considered not at international level. For half of the 2018-19 season, he was in New Zealand with the India ‘A’ squad; he played most of his matches [in the Ranji Trophy] on flat tracks. There was hardly anything he could do.”

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Vidarbha’s players are mentally tough and know how to handle their rejection well, believed Jaffer. But he felt the selectors need to think out of the box and make some selections based on potential, too.

“Selectors need to think out of the box. They need to see temperaments also, and need to back those talents. Just as they saw potential in Virat Kohli, Jasprit Bumrah, and Hardik Pandya; these players hadn’t played too many domestic matches when they were selected for the Indian team. But the selectors saw potential in them,” Jaffer concluded.