posted on 2019-08-09 20:53:52
posted by Tarkesh Jha
Image Credits: MyNation
Nearly a month since that fateful day at Manchester, my mind still looms over possible alternative conclusions to that semifinal. Yes, that.
So close yet so far had never made more sense. The tournament was ours to lose. The victory was within such close proximity. The finishing line seemed to reappear again after a weary period of disdain. Indian team looked to arise from the ashes in a couple of hours. It seemed impossible until 90 minutes ago. But, suddenly all of looked attainable again. A dream that was being snatched away from us was brought back in our sight. All it needed was a bravado staking his claim over it; someone, who showed the cojones to make it sure that we didn’t succumb meekly yet again. 2015, Sydney, was afresh yet in our minds. We didn’t mind losing. After all, clichés exist for a reason and one side always takes a step down eventually. But we didn’t want to leave it without a fight.
“It's not the size of the dog in the fight; it's the size of the fight in the dog.”
Six down. Still around 150 runs required. Asking rate spiraling upwards. No reliable batsman afterwards. Millions of hearts capitulated in condescension. The aforementioned bravado was missing from the field so far.
Step in, Ravindrasinh Anirudhsinh Jadeja.
In the land of monarchs, Jaddu would have rightly claimed his right over the ‘Sir’ title fondly given to him by his maestro that night; if, that alternative ending had actually taken place.
Big matches require the arrival of big players. And no, not merely the ones who are great by their numbers. But, it asks for players who have a heart and the will for a fight. For the stubborn, obstinate, persuasive figure that wouldn’t let the game end on someone else’s terms. Someone with an uncompromising resolve to refrain from surrendering despite his fellow mates failing to survive in the same style, yes, the Indian team required a player like that to come into the arena at 92/6.
That’s what Ravindra Jadeja is, and he showed that to the fullest despite the dark clouds of Manchester putting a shadow over his dreams ultimately. But for those couple of hours, Jadeja was the most peerlessly beautiful dream-seller whom I have ever witnessed in my years of watching the game.
Champions are often lonely people.
Jadeja was quite the same, an isolated figure throughout the World Cup. He had to sit out of most of the matches for no wrong of his. Yet, whenever asked to come in as a substitute fielder, to save runs, or to scalp catches like no one in that squad ever could, Jaddu gave it his all on the field.
One could perhaps even sense a raging fire burning inside of him, the incessant desire to take part in the proceedings on the field. He had been the star performer the last time this team won a major ICC tournament in England. Now, he was cut aside as an outcast; only asked to come in as a replacement fielder and nothing else. The fire kept burning, but to no avail, until…
Jadeja is a Rajput and takes immense pride in his lineage. He lives life king-sized in his hometown, Jamnagar. Rajputs are generally perceived to be people who take their profession very seriously and can’t stand being insulted at it.
Moreover, Ravindra has seen his career and day-to-day existence progress the hard way. Grinding it out in the dusty fields all over Gujarat, Jadeja became a cult-hero in Indian cricket with his catchy traits and impressive performances. So, to be called a mere bits-and-pieces cricketer demanded an expletive response even from the most reserved of characters.
Robert Bryne once observed, “The purpose of life is a life of purpose.”
If there was a rage ablaze within him before the 10th of July, Sanjay Manjrekar had only ignited it just about enough to produce an extravagant spectacle out of it.
Jadeja walked out with all sort of purpose and desire, with a destination defined in front of his eyes between those 22 yards. First, he stepped down the track to lift Jimmy Neesham’s delivery into the stands. He then counter-attacked Mitchell Santner and deposited the leather afar amongst the crowd. Amidst all this, he nudged the ball here once, there next, ran like his life depended upon it and ably scuffed the proceedings by its neck. He cleared his front leg and majestically smacked the delivery over Lockie Ferguson’s head for a maximum. The dream inched closer, Jadeja made sure it did so in style as well. The sword celebration was out as soon as he reached the half-century. There, he looked towards the commentary box, those eyes spewing vengeance. This was not a mere mediocre player at display. Here, you saw a man who had a feel for the big occasion, a temperament that stood out when even the greatest of batsmen rued their luck. To hell with talent, the oddity of encapsulating pressure and emerging out of the clinker is what you need during these days. And, one can’t buy it for the love of money. It is just there within you, or it isn’t.
There was an august, resplendent aura of swagger around Jadeja in that innings. There was confidence in the way he approached and exalted his stroke play. Every other aspect that one used to degrade his credentials in the white-ball game over the years were wiped off by him in some unreal prance and arrogance. In the quest to defy the inevitable, Jadeja ended up mishitting an aerial shot at 77 runs.
“Life is a wave, which in no two consecutive moments of its existence is composed of the same particle,” John Tyndall had quoted once.
A person who appeared to be impenetrable, invincible until a moment ago had to relinquish to the sad reality of life by the by.
Jadeja walked out with all sort of purpose and desire, with a destination defined in front of his eyes between those 22 yards..
Bilateral ODIs are losing context and meaning in the current day and age. How you enhance your skills to the pedigree of putting up a show on the greatest of stages is what will define your legacy the day you call it a day. In the present day of PR-driven, image enhancing, propaganda spreading transformation of the sport; Jadeja remains one of the peculiar few who plays the game with pure heart and nothing else. The innate ability to discern and arise under dire circumstances is invaluable on such critical days that elucidate the heritage of a team. When the 2023 50-overs World Cup arrives, Jadeja would be 34-years old, the supposed peak period for a cricketer. With his caliber, fitness and zest to succeed, age factor shouldn’t be an issue to restrict his inclusion in the side.
Well, even though the next World Cup is quite far away, one can at least hope that Ravindra Jadeja gets his due and becomes a permanent figure in the playing XI in ODIs now; for, the sole fact that he has shown that he would emerge and take the lead for the team when no one else during the most concerning of predicaments.