It is interesting that South African tours to India coincide with milestones in Wasim Jaffer’s career. Jaffer made his Test debut at Mumbai in the first Test of the 2000 series. The last Test that Jaffer played for India was the third Test at Kanpur in the 2008 series. And now, when the South Africans have locked horns with India in another Test series, Jaffer has reached a very significant milestone in Indian cricket — that of becoming the first batsman to aggregate 10,000 runs in the Ranji Trophy, India’s premier first-class tournament.
Jaffer’s Test stats do not make for bad reading. He was dropped after the two Tests in his debut series in 2000, returned for a few more in 2002 for the West Indies and England tours and was dropped again. It was only from 2006 to 2008 that he got a steady run and played the bulk of his 31 Tests. An average of 34 after 31 Tests is neither here nor there but the fact that 20 of his 31 Tests were outside India is significant. Also, it is notable that his short Test career has produced, along with three hundreds and five fifties, two double-hundreds as well — a testimony to his temperament and appetite for runs that has been so evident in domestic cricket.
When it comes to domestic cricket, there can be no ambiguity in the interpretation of Jaffer’s stats. He is indisputably a behemoth of Indian first-class cricket.
– He is the first man to cross 10,000 runs in the Ranji Trophy and it is likely that he will remain the only person to have done so, for many years to come, and possibly for ever.
– He holds the records for the most hundreds (35) and fifties (76) in the Ranji Trophy.
– He is third on the list for the most runs scored in a single season for his 1260 runs in 2008/09, behind VVS Laxman (1415 in 1999/00) and Vijay Bharadwaj (1280 in 1998/99).
– He has the scored the most runs in the Duleep Trophy (2545) and the Irani Trophy (1008) as well, the other long-form Indian domestic tournaments.
– He has been part of a Ranji title-winning team eight times, including two as captain.
As much as Jaffer is known for his incredible run-making, he is also admired for his calm temperament and the dignity with which he carries himself – a man on whom records will sit well. This season (2015) has seen him making a move from Mumbai, his team of 19 years, to Vidarbha to play as a professional, where his experience will be invaluable.
When the Sehwag-Gambhir opening combo was broken in 2012-13 and there was a slot available, Jaffer was a strong contender. However, with an eye on the future, the selectors looked past him and opted for a younger candidate. Disappointed though he was, Jaffer’s hunger did not diminish and he has continued to excel in the domestic circuit. In a sense, since the time around 2008 when he was dropped from the Indian side, he has been the best opener India has not had. At 37 years of age, he is still going strong. The 10000-run landmark is only the latest of his many achievements. Wasim Jaffer stands tall in Indian domestic cricket.
(Stats: CricketArchive, ESPNCricinfo)