Suspending him was the only way the ICC could have stopped Ravi Jadeja’s relentless progress

Posted by on Monday, August 7th, 2017 in Cricket

 

He has played 32 Test matches, taken 155 wickets giving away an average of 23 runs per hapless victim. He is ranked the No.1 Test bowler in the world right now. And just to stamp his importance to Virat Kohli’s all conquering Test team, he also boasts a batting average of 30 coming in regularly at No.8.

 

He is Ravindrasinh Anuradhsinh Jadeja, descendant of a family boasting  generations of warriors. A fact that has not been lost on every team that has had the misfortune of coming up against him over the past year or so.

 

From nowhere, Jadeja has magically produced unplayable deliveries that have brought breakthroughs when nothing seemed to be going India’s way. And once he strikes, he quickly becomes dangerously penetrative. One wicket often becomes five. Nine five wicket hauls in 32 Tests is testimony to his abilities.

 

In March 2017,  Jadeja joined Ravichandran Ashwin at No.1 in the ICC rankings for Test bowlers in what is the first instance of two spinners jointly claiming the top spot. He then bumped Ashwin off the pedestal and claimed sole right to remain in that position, where he still remains. Not bad for a man who even a year or so ago was labeled a specialist of the shorter formats of the game and struggled to make the Test team.

 

So exactly how good has his career been thus far?

 

Only 5 spinners in the history of Test cricket have made their way to a 150 wicket haul faster than Jadeja – Sydney Barnes, Clarrie Grimmett, Saeed Ajmal, Shane Warne and Ravi Ashwin. That is not a list to be scoffed at.

 

However no left arm bowler has got there faster. After 32 Tests, Jadeja sits on top of an illustrious list of left arm bowlers that has Mitchell Johnson languishing just below him, having achieved the feat in 34 Tests.

 

The next target is clearly the 200 wicket mark. Sitting atop the record books here as the fastest to reach the mark are Clarrie Grimmett and Ravi Ashwin in 36 and 37 Tests respectively. While it is inconceivable that Jadeja will make it to this mark in the next 5 or 6 Tests, given the rich vein of form he is displaying, he can certainly dream of getting to 200 faster than the next two spinners on that list, Stuart McGill and Shane Warner who took 41 and 42 Tests to reach the mark respectively.

 

It is worth looking at what has changed in the last year or so when his Test career, languishing after a promising start in 2012, has changed trajectory.

 

Karthik Krishnaswamy, writing in ESPN Cricinfo earlier this year, brought out some interesting thoughts: “Jadeja now looks more threatening on flat pitches than he used to, his changes of pace and trajectory keeping batsmen vigilant at all times where his earlier, metronomic style could occasionally bowl them into a rhythm. Now, if he sees a batsman negotiating him largely off the back foot, he’ll aim a round-arm dart at his pads. Or if a batsman is defending him off the front foot with his pad next to the line of the ball, wary of the threat of lbw, he’ll toss one up slower and wider. Sometimes, this may bring immediate results – think Jonny Bairstow scooping a catch to short cover in the first innings in Chennai. At other times, a batsman may simply slice the ball to backward point, off the outside half of his bat, then start bringing his front leg further across in defence, leading to an lbw further down the line.

 

Krishnaswamy goes on to draw an interesting conclusion: “What changed between his 16th Test against South Africa in Delhi and his 17th in St Lucia eight months later? One thing did change: India hired a new coach, and that man, Anil Kumble, had a career of two distinct halves. In the first half, he was a fast, non-turning legspinner who speared the ball into the stumps and let the pitch do the rest. In the second, he began flighting the ball more, varied his pace more frequently, and tasted far more success overseas. Jadeja could well be taking the first few steps of a similar journey.

 

That is a very interesting point indeed. While Kumble is not at the helm of affairs anymore following a bitter public fallout with Kohli, the man who has replaced him is not only an astute strategist, but in his playing days, Ravi Shastri was also a similar left arm spinner to Jadeja. In an interesting parallel, Jadeja’s recent success as a batsman in addition to his penetrative bowling, is actually a virtual replay of how Shastri’s own career evolved.

 

So what will be the next target?

 

Jadeja’s partner in crime Ashwin just became the fastest to reach the double of 2000 Test runs and 250 wickets in his 51st match. With 19 Tests to go and Jadeja looking to up the ante in both his bowling and batting, Ashwin’s reign at the top could conceivably be short lived.

 

By suspending him for the next Test match for throwing a ball needlessly and dangerously while fielding, Richie Richardson may only have temporarily delayed Ravi Jadeja’s relentless march to the top of Test cricket’s most coveted bowler and all-rounder records.

12 responses to “Suspending him was the only way the ICC could have stopped Ravi Jadeja’s relentless progress”

  1. Naresh Sadasvan says:

    Nice analysis of an “I am can also bowl” player whose entry into the Indian ODI team was on the back of a few triple centuries in the domestic league! That he has upped his bowling game to such prodigious level is definitely because of the kinds of inputs Kumble & Shastri might have given him. But truth be told – he was already a fantastic athlete, whose ability to throw straight at the stumps would have made Jhonty proud. He used that same skill to bowl ball after ball at the same spot, just varying his pace/trajectory. That itself was sufficient enough to cause distress amongst batsmen. And his hunger to succeed, and (at the cost of taking away credit, though that is not the intent) spinner-friendly tracks were a great help in boosting his morale & numbers. The fighter in him is winning him battles. Fantastic!!!

    • Anindya Dutta says:

      Thanks so much Naresh. Absolutely! Its his accuracy that does batsmen in. If you go back to the early years of the 20th century it was bowlers like Hugh Trumble with their ability to “bowl on a coin” so to speak which made them successful other than their ability and variation. And he is a fantastic fielder. As far as his batting goes, I think the success of his bowling is allowing him to relax and get bigger scores than he was achieving at the outset.

  2. KK says:

    Once upon a time, Dhoni was being thrashed for backing Jadeja…..whereas this guy has always looked like a fighter..

    • Anindya Dutta says:

      True. I have always been a fan and took a lot of flak from people at the time who called him Dhoni’s puppy. He reminded me of Shastri from Day 1 but he is a much better bowler than Shastri was. Shastri evolved into a good batsman which I think Jaddu will as well.

  3. Kersi Meher-Homji says:

    Jadeja is a character cricket needs today. A genuine all-rounder, he is an entertainer too with his sword-waving. Truly, a cricketing musketeer.
    Anindya, you have captured him in full flight.

    • Anindya Dutta says:

      Thank you so much Kersi. Yes, he is a real character who also gives it his all on the field. He is also a great team man. I hope he sticks around and gets better as time goes by.

  4. Chinmoy Jena says:

    Thanks for highlighting the progress of a player who has matured beyond immensely during the past one year. He has taken a lot of flak from our cricket lovers and credit to him that he has fought back to prove his mettle. Hope the milestones waiting to be reached will be achieved during the coming one year or so.

    • Anindya Dutta says:

      Thanks Chinmoy. Glad you enjoyed it. Yes I hope he plays for many a year with the same passion and distinction he does now.

  5. ASIF KARMALI says:

    the headline could also read ” suspending jadeja was the only way kuldeep yadav could have found a place in the playing XI”. India is blessed in having 2 genuine all rounders in the playing XI. our strength lies in our spinners and we should continue with the same combination even in pace friendly conditions. Jadeja deserves to bat higher up which can happen when pandya makes way for ishant or bhuvi in south Africa.
    RICHIE RICHARDSON HAS JUST DELAYED HIS MAIDEN TEST CENTURY .

    • Anindya Dutta says:

      Haha that’s true! Kuldeep is very talented and India would do well to encourage all these young spinners. It is a time when our spin stables are full as opposed to most other teams that are struggling to find quality spinners. We should not waste the talent.

  6. Rajendra Amin says:

    Well said Anindya, the very fact that he displaced Murali Kartik & Pragyan Oja to find a place for himself speaks volumes of his overall skill sets. Initially I thought he would not survive in the longer version of the game but did very well for himself & the team thanks to his overall ability.

    • Anindya Dutta says:

      Yes Rajen, he has learnt fast and adapted. He is adding variations and his ability to make the ball turn and bounce and his accuracy, will, I hope get him success in England, Aus and SA, without which Indian critics don’t seem to consider a bowler to be worth his salt.

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