A boy born in a humble middle class muslim family, an exemplary team man, a batsman with the best cover drive and leg flicks which looks like a master coaching the bowlers. A calm demeanour, a humble background, a 6ft tall humble giant with a cricketing brain & a batting technique which can last forever like a rock. Yes, Wasim Jaffer- Many may have heard his name, many may just know it casually that he was an ex-indian cricketer & many may just know him by the fact that he represented Team India as an opener in Tests for a short span of time.
But the real introduction of this player who is almost 40 and into his 9th Ranji title where he played in the finals for Vidarbha a few weeks ago has never been explained by the media in India or overseas. Yes Wasim jaffer-the legend which we have rarely appreciated. At the age of 15, Wasim Jaffer scored a record 400* in a single innings and showed his appetite for scoring big knocks. Jaffer kept on amassing runs at school level where his mates could not even reach close. Yes he is also the same batsman and in fact the only batsman in the world who scored a triple century just in his 2nd first class match. Jaffer also holds the record of most number of Ranji Runs which stands tall at 10,296runs in his 21year long career.
His hunger to score big, in fact hunger is not the right word, his passion and skills to produce big tons is something not a single player can ever match or has ever reached in 1st class cricket. 86 fifties, 58 hundreds and close to 18,000 first class runs at an average of 50, yes you heard it right. These are the statistics which takes him right in the league of Sachin, Laxman, Dravid, Ganguly and Gavaskar starting from the grassroot level. In fact if we talk about comparisions, from the beginning of his childhood to his 1st first class career till now, there is no player in India who can surpass what he has achieved and that includes the ‘Tendulkar’ too.
Even in the 31 tests he has played for India, he notched up two double tons out of the five he scored. He is still remembered for that valiant ton against Windies(who was a strong side back then) where he saved India from an embarassing defeat.Unfortunately the old world cricket style of Jaffer took time to blend with the super fast and modern day cricketers and their cricketing culture which cut his career short. Plus the influx of more dynamic and ‘happening players’ with brown hairs, stylish haircuts, tattoos, aggressive batting, flamboyant attitude who believe in giving back replaced the old school, rock solid, technically correct and classy player like Wasim.
We so much wished he was born in the 1950’s or 70’s, he could have definitely gone on to play 150+ tests for India with staggering success because that is the era of Cricket which suits his cricket and that is the real cricket at the first place. In a fast paced world like ours of 21st century, players like Jaffer are like those old Parsi bakeries of South Bombay like Leopold, Kyani, Brittaania and Merwans which has no place in the era of fast food chains and big brands & slowly diminishing towards extinction. Though there are still people who want to save this bakeries and relieve those classic priceless memories and joy, but unfortunately there are only a selected few who know the worth, the vintage value and importance of such things or else everyone wants, is fast food brands just like how Jaffer got replaced with the new crop of fast-paced modern boys.
Also despite all that stature, he lives his life humbly, still drives an old black esteem and unlike brands like ‘Sachin’, ‘Gavaskar’ and so many other cricketers who ask for lakhs and crores even for a 2minute appearance, he rarely asks for money for appearances, never parties, never offers himself for advertisement. In his 21year career, not a single time he has been embroiled in any spats or controversies. Rather he motivates as many aspiring cricketers as he can at the local level. Forget about asking for money, he does his best to sponsor the deserving kids with cricket assistance like kits, coaching and more. Even in the recent Ranji season, Jaffer denied taking a single rupee and played without any charges. At the domestic and local level, Jaffer is like a father figure to many, you ask any player on whom they look upto or who is their best and you will find atleast 6 out of 10 people taking his name unlike Gavaskar, Sachin or some other stars which you maybe expecting.
This is a message to Wasim Jaffer that never ever in your life think you are not on par with Sachin, Dravid, Ganguly or Gavaskar. Yes you were unlucky or let’s say the Indian Cricket was unlucky to not see the best version of you at the International level but that hardly takes away the fact that you are an amazing human being and one of the most iconic cricketers of India.
And yaa, there are still people who love & are dying to survive those old parsi cafes and bakeries, similarly there will always be a niche crowd, a handful of people who will always know your worth, your contribution to Indian Cricket.
Your emotional brand value is bigger than the commercial brand value of Sachin, Virat and many more.
Hats off to a wonderful career and an inspiration to many.