He’s 31, and the opening slot in one-day internationals (and Tests and T20s too) is all sewn up. In ODIs in any case, with Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar all around, there isn’t a chance that Wasim Jaffer can even get a look in. And if someone’s not fit, then invariably, the selectors opt for youth over experience.
So what keeps the player dubbed ‘the king of domestic cricket’ going?
“Just the game itself,” says the soft-spoken Jaffer, who came up with his best Challenger Series knock, a run-a-ball 143, on Saturday evening.
With that and a record opening stand of 265 with Tamil Nadu youngster Abhinav Mukund for India Blue against India Green, Jaffer showed that he still had the will to succeed at the limited-overs stage, one from where most have written him off forever.
“I had not scored runs in the Challengers. It was very pleasing and satisfying to score in front of the selectors,” Jaffer told HT in Nagpur.
He still thinks he can defy the odds and make it to the India ODI side. “As long as I score in the one-day format and stay fit, I think I can. That has got to be the criteria and not age,” he said.
He knows it’s not easy. But refuses to allow it to bother him. “I don’t keep anyone (competitor) in mind when I am playing cricket,” Jaffer said. “I try to score whenever I play, be it for my club, company, state or country. I try and play the best I can.”
The only motivation, Jaffer says, is to score big again this season. He led the run-scorers list in the last domestic season with 1260 runs.
“I scored heavily last season. I won’t say the performances were not recognised but I expected to be part of the Indian side for Sri Lanka. But it (not getting a call) can happen. I don’t hold grudges against anyone. There are a lot of players in the fray and the selectors have a lot of choices.”
Among those in the fray are Tamil Nadu’s opening pair of 25-year-old Murali Vijay and 19-year-old Abhinav Mukund. Like Jaffer, both Vijay and Mukund shone in the Irani Cup. While Vijay scored 91, Mukund made 126 for Rest of India against Mumbai.
Jaffer, though, knows a player has to consistently perform at the top level to make the national team.