Ravindra Jadeja has apparently been in stellar form of late and people are already touting him as a long-term Test prospect. His lovely turner to dismiss Michael Clarke is even being termed the ‘Ball of the Century’. And the hype surrounding the Saurashtra lad has steadily escalated from ‘reasonably hyperbolic’ to ‘exceedingly superlative’ within a scale of three Test matches (two against the Aussies in this series and one against England late last year).
But I believe that Jadeja should be dropped from the next Test match at Mohali as India should play both Dhawan and Rahane next week. Think I’m off my rocker saying this at a time when he’s being showered with more adulation than his namesake Ajay Jadeja was in his glory days? Well, allow me to tell you my 5 reasons for wanting the man some refer to as Sir Ravindra Jadeja dropped from the next Test match.
1. Batting against Steyn and co?
With India in the driving seat against a listless Aussie team, holding an unassailable 2-0 lead in the four-match Test series, it is time to start preparing for the upcoming South Africa tour. The next few series are all going to be overseas and we need to try out players who can be used there. And Jadeja certainly doesn’t seem like one of them.
He’s been excellent in patches at home, but he hasn’t had much overseas exposure, probably because of his lack of technique. In South Africa, Team India will ne
ed a strong batting line-up that bats deep and has a strong technique. Jadeja not only fails to tick these boxes, but he also has struggled when he’s played overseas in the shorter formats.
In T20Is, he’s batted in 6 innings overseas and made just 65 runs, failing to achieve anything at all in West Indies and England among other places. When it comes to ODIs, outside South Asia, he’s made a none-too-impressive 186 runs in 12 matches.
Pitching him against the best bowling line-up in their backyard won’t be a good idea and if he isn’t playing, and we need to prepare for the series having already secured this one; it’s time to drop him and play Rahane and Dhawan, the former down at number 6 or 7 while the latter opens with Vijay.
2. Battering batter? There’s better!
With a highest first class score of 331, he is being made out to be an all-rounder. India’s new and improved version of Nicky Boje, perhaps. But his batting record is far from impressive when it comes to the international circuit.
In T20 Internationals, he’s batted in 10 innings for India and made 74 runs at a staggeringly poor average of 10.57. When it comes to Twenty20s, including tournaments like the IPL and other domestic competitions, he’s batted in 65 matches and has an average of around 20 with an unenviable stat of not having scored a single 50. Yeah, not even for Saurashtra. Or CSK.
His ODI record has been marginally better, averaging at around 30, but overseas, it hovers at around 15 with his failure to negotiate better bowling more exposed when abroad. His first class record for Saurashtra is, admittedly, excellent, but that’s against tame bowlers on tame pitches. It’s also where Ajit Agarkar has scored 4 centuries and 16 half-tons. Enough said.
His recent Test form, which basically means his entire 3-match Test career, isn’t impressive either. His scores in the three innings he’s played have been 12 (against England), 16 (against Australia) and 10 (against Australia again) and his final two innings have been against the insipid, uninspired Aussie attack.
Talks of him being an all-rounder are as premature as Justin Bieber’s voice and as outrageous as claiming that Kristen Stewart could win the Oscar. I’m not saying it will never happen, but it would be immeasurably surprising if it did!
3. The man with the golden left arm?
While his batting may be under question, surely the man with the golden left arm that bowled what Sunny Gavaskar called the ‘ball of the century’ to get rid of Michael Clarke in Hyderabad is a good bowler to play in Mohali.
Hang on a moment. Let us again look towards the South African series. On a pitch conducive for the quicks, it’s highly unlikely that we will play two spinners. With Ashwin and Ojha definitely regarded as better bowlers than him, Jadeja will most probably spend the next few seasons either replacing Rahane on the warm bench or back home in India, smashing triple tons for Saurashtra.
With the series secure, should we not then try Ojha or someone else who could make the trips overseas? The lack of foresight could see us play an out-of-sorts lower order batsman or a bowler who could’ve done with more match-practice.
4. ‘Spin King’ or ‘stinking’ spin?
While he may have bowled exceptionally well in Chennai and Hyderabad, his bowling records suggest this may have been a bit of an anomaly and could be attributed to the wicket. After all, even an out-of-sorts Lyon picked up 4 of the 12 Indian wickets that fell in the first Test. And Doherty and Maxwell got a fair few too.
A better analysis can be made of his ODI bowling performances. In the 62 games he got to bowl in, he’s got just 2 four-wicket hauls and got 70 wickets at an average of 34.17, with a not-quite-good-enough strike rate of 42.8.
He’s a decent 5th option, but with Ashwin batting decently enough and Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s good batting technique providing further cover in that department, his role in the team overseas is redundant and unnecessary.
That said, he should definitely play when India play at home again, after their spate of series away. Or he should play for an English county and improve his effectiveness abroad so that he can remain in Team India’s plans throughout the year.
5. Mohali’s mohalla
While Chennai and Hyderabad were pitches that helped the spinners and the Australians’ technique didn’t help their cause, Mohali is all set to be a more seaming wicket. It not only provides India with the ideal opportunity to throw in another pacer, but it also gives us a chance to try a batsman who could be groomed to face Steyn and co.
The lovely spin Jadeja was getting in the previous games is unlikely to continue and even if spin is the option, there may be a need to look at a specialist to operate on this track. Either way, whether MSD goes with the extra batsman, pacer or spinner, Jadeja isn’t suited to the wicket and shouldn’t be picked for the third Test.
That said, Sir Jadeja has been very impressive and perhaps a few seasons of county cricket or some good ODI performances abroad could put him in the reckoning for the long-term. He does, at least, have age on his side.
(The views expressed by the author are personal)