Wasim Jaffer, Test opener and domestic king, retires
The 42-year-old, who is also the highest run-scorer in the history of Ranji Trophy, played 31 Tests and two One-Day Internationals (ODIs) between 2000-2008.Updated: Mar 07, 2020 20:49 IST
Former India opener and domestic cricket giant, Wasim Jaffer, announced his retirement from all cricket here on Saturday. The 42-year-old was part of 10 Ranji Trophy-winning sides, eight with Mumbai and the last two with Vidarbha.
The tall batsman played 31 Tests between 2000 and 2008—he made his debut against South Africa at the Wankhede Stadium in 2000—scoring 1,944 runs at an average of 34.01 with five centuries and 11 half-centuries. Jaffer, known for his resolve and stylish drives and flicks, hit his highest Test score of 212 against West Indies at St John’s, Antigua in 2006. The same year Jaffer played both his ODIs, against South Africa. He also scored a superb 202 against Pakistan at Kolkata in November 2007.
“Among moments I will cherish the most is getting my India Test cap, scoring 202 vs Pakistan, 212 vs West Indies and winning the Test series in West Indies and England in 2006-07,” Jaffer said in a statement on Saturday announcing his retirement.
Jaffer became the first cricketer to play 150 Ranji matches in December 2019, and the only Ranji batsman to complete the 12,000-run mark two months later. Of his record Ranji aggregate, 1,037 runs in 15 innings at 69.13 came for Vidarbha in their victorious 2018-19 campaign, thus becoming the only batsman to score 1,000 plus runs in two seasons, the previous effort having come in 2008-09.
Hailed for his longevity—he made his first-class debut in 1996-97—Jaffer played 260 first-class matches, scoring 19,410 runs at an average of 50.67 (57x100s, 91x50s) with his highest of 314* coming for Mumbai against Saurashtra in his debut season.
Jaffer shared the dressing room in the Indian team with some of the biggest names, and he recalled those days too. “I am honoured to have shared the dressing room with the likes of Rahul Dravid, Sourav Ganguly, Anil Kumble, VVS Laxman, Virender Sehwag, and MS Dhoni to name a few. What can I say about Sachin (Tendulkar)? I could go on and on about him. He was my role model. Feel really blessed to have watched him play from such close quarters. In my opinion he was one of the best players of that era along with Brian Lara,” he said.
“My longest association was with the Mumbai team and it’s here that I learned about the khadoos (gritty) nature of cricket that Mumbai players are known for,” said Jaffer, who also captained Mumbai to two Ranji titles (their 38th and 39th).
“Represented the 41-time Ranji champions from my under-16 days till 2014. Sanjay Manjrekar was my first captain. I feel privileged to have shared the Mumbai dressing room with Sachin, Vinod Kambli, Zaheer Khan, Amol Muzumdar, Nilesh Kulkarni, to name few. After becoming the captain in 2008, I hope I passed on some legacy to Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane, Suryakumar Yadav, Aditya Tare and others,” he said.
His association with the Indian Oil has lasted more than two decades, in which he has helped and guided his Mumbai teammates such as Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane, Cheteshwar Pujara and several more who were his juniors. Recalling his early days, Jaffer said, “My corporate team Indian Oil Corporation Ltd that has looked after me for 20 odd years. My school Anjuman-I-Islam from where my journey to become professional cricketer began. Sudhir Naik sir for giving me opportunity to play for National Cricket Club,” he added.
Jaffer holds a slew of domestic records, including Ranji appearances (156), aggregate (12,038 runs), most centuries (40) and catches (200). He helped Vidarbha win back-to-back titles in 2017-18 and 2018-19, but the team failed to qualify for the knockout stage this time with Jaffer nursing a knee problem as well.
“First of all I would like to thank the almighty Allah, who gave me the talent to play this beautiful game. I’d like to also thank my family—my parents and brothers for encouraging me to pursue the sport as a profession and my wife, who left a cosy life of England to create a lovely home for our children and me,” he said.
“A special thanks to all my coaches, right from my school days to professional cricket, for helping me polish my skills. A heartfelt thanks to the selectors who showed faith in me. My gratitude to all the captains I played under and all my colleagues from whom I learnt so much about the game and shared some lifelong memories. I would also like to thank all the support staff who were a constant pillar of support in my long journey. Thank you to the BCCI, Mumbai Cricket Association and Vidarbha Cricket Association for giving me the opportunity to represent them,” he added.
Jaffer added, “I would also like to thank Chandrakant Pandit for showing faith in me when no team showed any interest to have me as a professional for 2017-18 season. It is because of him that I got a chance to play for Vidarbha again and create history of winning a Ranji Trophy and Irani Cup twice.”
“My father wanted one of his sons to represent India and I feel proud to have fulfilled his dream. After all these years in cricket, it is time to move on. But just like the red-ball format which is very dear to me, it’s the end of only the first innings. I am looking forward to the second innings in any capacity, be it in coaching, commentary etc. As long as I stay involved with the game as this game has given me so much,” he said.
“Wishing you a happy 2nd innings of life @WasimJaffer14 bhai! Have good memories playing with you in Mumbai team. May God bless you in all your future endeavours!,” said India cricketer Ajinkya Rahane on Twitter after Jaffer made his announcement.
Former India batsman VVS Laxman said, “Many congratulations on a wonderful career @WasimJaffer14 , you can be very proud of yourself. Wish you a great second innings.”
“ WASIM JAFFER “ welcome to the band. You truly were inspirational. You pushed boundaries. Domestic cricket will be poorer without U. The mould was unique. As I always said across the dressing room, ‘Jaffara’ well batted...good wishes always!” (sic), said Amol Muzumdar, another domestic cricket giant who is second behind Jaffer in terms of most runs in Ranji Trophy.
Jaffer, who played in the Indian Premier League (IPL) for the Royal Challengers Bangalore for one season, will be an assistant coach with Kings XI Punjab in the upcoming edition.