World Cup glory beckons, arise 'Sir' Jadeja
He wears it like an amulet, a protective shield against a condescending world that laughed at his achievements, almost resenting them.WorldCup2015 Updated: Feb 14, 2015 13:54 IST
In his sprawling farmhouse at Jamnagar in the west Indian state of Gujarat, Ravindra Jadeja is often seen riding one of his four horses without even a saddle.
The 26-year-old all-rounder brings the same insouciance into the cricket field -- whether he is bowling, batting or running backwards chasing a skier.
He wears it like an amulet, a protective shield against a condescending world that laughed at his achievements, almost resenting them.
Though classified as an all-rounder, the Saurashtra southpaw is no Garfield Sobers. At best, he is a utility player with skills tailor-made for limited over cricket but inadequate for sustained success at test level.
Born in a warrior-ruler family but without the affluence, the son of a security guard and a nurse has found acceptability incredibly difficult to come by.
His three triple centuries in domestic cricket are cited only to lament the dearth of quality bowlers in India; his left-arm spin is perceived as innocuous; and his nonchalance has prompted those on social media to dub him 'Sir Jadeja'.
This after Australian spin great Shane Warne, Jadeja's then captain in the Rajasthan team in Indian Premier League, had nicknamed him "Rockstar" for his brimming self-confidence.
Cast into the Chuck Norris template, 'Sir Jadeja' has been the subject of numerous Twitter jokes, some in good humour by his team mates, including skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
"Sir jadeja once wanted to make a silt mountain to play as a kid, now v all call it mt. Everest," Dhoni tweeted of the all-rounder, who has been a permanent fixture in the Indian captain's limited over team that will begin their World Cup campaign against arch-rivals Pakistan in Adelaide on Sunday.
Jadeja has also proved he can take the gentle ribbing.
"I think it is a joke and we are enjoying. Nothing serious," he said of his new-found prefix in 2013.
"I am not seriously thinking about the title 'Sir' and all that. It's okay as everybody is enjoying it in the team and it's fine," he said.
Even Prime Minister Narendra Modi could not resist the temptation of mentioning it while wishing the cricketer well ahead of the World Cup.
"Who is not a fan of Sir Jadeja? We all look forward to seeing your all round performances take India to victory!" Modi posted on Twitter.
Modi, however, is unlikely to have caused any embarrassment to Jadeja, whose nonchalance has surfaced every time he faced the press.
Once asked whether he considers himself a true all-rounder, Jadeja deadpanned: "Yes. I think when everyone tags me as an all-rounder then it is not for nothing that they call me so."
Former Australia pacer Andy Bichel has no doubt Jadeja can make a big impact at the World Cup.
"What a talent this Indian all-rounder is in the right conditions," Bichel wrote on his column for the International Cricket Council.
"With the ball he is very hard to work away so his pace on the ball will be important here in this World Cup. His batting is getting better by the day and he is starting to be more consistent in recent times." (Editing by Patrick Johnston)
First Published: Feb 14, 2015 13:50 IST