As India's stunning debacle is being dissected threadbare after two massive defeats, Wasim Jaffer finds his name being discussed for the first time since he lost his place in the side three years ago.
Forgotten after the 2007-08 home series against South Africa, despite scoring tons of runs in domestic cricket, the man himself has been following the team's destiny from the confines of his beautiful home in Dudley. But for the burning desire to wear the Indian colours again, Jaffer appears to be at peace with himself, enjoying his time as an overseas professional with Himley Cricket Club in the Birmingham Premier League. His life looks almost picture perfect in this Birmingham suburb.Great perks
His club has arranged for a nice, cosy bungalow and a car with his name on the door and bonnet. The workload is restricted to playing a game on Saturdays and a practice session on Wednesday. These are the perks of being a run machine.
Jaffer is one of the most sought after professionals in the English leagues. For his former club in the Huddersfield League, he bettered the record for aggregate runs which stood at 1,800 runs. The Mumbai skipper finished with 2,038 runs. Here in 12 games, he already has 630 plus runs with three hundreds.
But this season his peace of mind has been disturbed a bit by the Indian team's troubled England sojourn. The more he has looked at the team's performance, the more convinced he has become that 'he could have made some difference'.
"After the West Indies tour I felt I had a chance as both openers had not done well and Virender Sehwag was not available for the first couple of games. Also, the last time I played here I did well. I don't understand the reason why they are not considering me. I have got the runs in domestic cricket."
Former India skipper Sourav Ganguly said after the Trent Bridge defeat that Jaffer would have been ideal as a stop-gap replacement for Sehwag. With Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir back for the third Test, Jaffer is no longer anxious about a call from the selectors. "There's very remote chance now, it's out of my mind now," he said.
The Indian middle-order thrives when they have a solid start and that is a role Jaffer and Dinesh Karthik performed to perfection in 2007. The England bowling attack was almost the same but the Indian opening pair confidently played out the threat of James Anderson & Co in almost each innings for Tendulkar & Co to build on.
The situation was even more challenging then. The team had faced a backlash after the World Cup flop, Zaheer Khan was making a comeback, there was no Sehwag, and they had a stop-gap coach.
There is a strong opinion that the current team has lacked the intensity of the Rahul Dravid-led side. Jaffer begs to differ: "We can't say the desire is lacking. They have a lot of things to play for. It's the No 1 side in the world playing against the No 3 side. Everything is at stake, including their No 1 ranking. Even if you are complacent, it can happen in the first Test, but after losing the first Test, you come back to reality."
He though agrees that they were a very determined lot on the last tour. "In 2007, we had a strong bond. I don't remember of any long team meeting but the atmosphere was very good. Zaheer was making a comeback and had so much to prove.
"None of the top batsmen got hundreds but we had partnerships going and put the totals on the board. Strauss and Bell were put under a lot of pressure. The slip catching was excellent," said Jaffer.