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Leadership comes easy for Jadeja

Former India player Ajay Jadeja is now enjoying his time with the Rajasthan Ranji team.

india Updated: Jan 25, 2006 15:39 IST

It is a bright morning with subtle variations in the chill that makes it tough to maintain equilibrium between the body temperature and outside. Traffic is at normal and the KL Saini ground, which till last year witnessed all the Ranji matches at Jaipur, appears open to the world. Meaning, there is no high wall around the ground and passers-by can glance the proceedings from outside.

The Rajasthan players are a chirpy lot and their practice session on the eve ends pretty quickly. But unlike Monday, the eve of the match had always been hectic in earlier times— that is before a certain Ajay Jadeja came to pump in his experience and tell them, "before the match you need to take it easy."

That Jadeja is indispensable is proved from the fact that the state association didn't even know his whereabouts till Monday. And when he dropped in, he was treated like a leader.

"I am enjoying my time here," says Jadeja. "It is like guiding and giving their lives a new perspective."

Jadeja was roped in at the beginning of the season in Rajasthan's bid to revamp its cricket. He also brought in Sanjay Gill. "Competition," he answers when asked what change he's brought to the side.

"There were guys who had been playing for years and were taking their place for granted. I mean they weren't improving. With the administrators, I have tried to change all that."

He quotes the example of Sanjay Gill who was brought in to give the others a run for their money. "Besides, he is a good and handy bowler," Jadeja said.

Though Gill himself admits he came here because there was little chance for him to play for Delhi, the fact remains that there is a sense of urgency in the players since Jadeja's arrival.

Some of them hadn't even seen the SG balls. It wasn't available during practice. This season they are getting them. "That is a small thing. There've been other big things too— like the attitude. It is fun working towards restructuring a team," he adds.

So how has Rajasthan been different from Delhi. "I think you are completely in charge of the place here and people listen to you," he explains. "In a place like Delhi where cricket history is rich, accepting you as the only one in charge is difficult. You have suggestions pouring in from everywhere and there's a lot of blame game. The coach says something, the captain something else. Then you have the six selectors, each with a personal view.

"Having said that, I am extremely grateful to Delhi who gave me an opportunity to play after I made my comeback. But here I am in a position to say: 'OK, I want this bloke to play'. That wasn't there. You score runs, take wickets and come back next year."

He has a point and one look at the way he orchestrates the camp proves what he is to Rajasthan cricket at the moment. He orders a colleague to remove his sweaty shirt and change a new one. "Jaa mere bag se le le," he tells him. "Nahin to bemaar pad jaega."

First Published: Jan 25, 2006 15:39 IST