Armaan Jaffer… the latest run-machine in Mumbai cricket, the man who twice narrowly missed scoring 500. Photo Courtesy: Sarang Bhalerao
Armaan Jaffer, the young prodigy, is the run-machine with a penchant for gigantic scores. His compendiums of 473 and 498 in the Harris Shield highlight his jaw-dropping run-hunger. Sarang Bhalerao takes a look at the making of Armaan the run-machine.
In the narrow lane that leads to the Marine Lines Railway Station and which separates the Parsi Gymkhana and the Islam Gymkhana, Kaleem Jaffer is watching the Times Shield game featuring Tata Sporting Club and Indian Oil. He is a well-known figure in Mumbai cricket circles. He has strived day in and day out to shape the cricketing career of his brother Wasim — now a titan in India’s domestic cricket. Kaleem’s 14-year-old son Armaan has been a Hercules when it comes to batting records in the school cricket.
Kaleem recalls the time when he started to train Armaan. “It all started in 2006,” says Kaleem who made Armaan’s defence strong during the initial years. “All the shots played in cricket are an extension of cricket,” says Kaleem. Armaan learnt the nuances of the game from his father and honed his batting skills relentlessly every single day from thereon.
Cricket has transformed tremendously from the time Wasim started his cricket. Explains Kaleem: “When I trained Wasim, the emphasis was to stay on the wicket and wear down the bowler. Limited-overs cricket had not evolved. Wasim scored heavily in school cricket, and later on for the clubs. He made the cut in the Mumbai team and has been one its pillars ever since.”
Kaleem adopted a different method with Armaan. “I trained him taking into account the modern-day game where the batsman needs to have more than one-dimension to his game. His runs come at a fast pace and is ready for any format of the game. In a way he is an advanced version of Wasim.”
Armaan has scored a plenty of hundreds in his seven-year career so far. “Seventy-nine and counting,” reveals Kaleem.
In this year’s Under-16 Vijay Merchant Trophy, Armaan scored 1,036 runs in the eight games, a fabulous feat considering that no other batsman has ever scored over a thousand runs in the tournament history.
The break-up of his scores:
Kaleem says: “It’s the run-hunger that matters. Armaan has all the shots in the book. It’s a question of playing the right shot in the right situation.”
As Kaleem is talking, in walked the prodigy sporting a red Mumbai practice jersey. He is accompanied by his sister Fatima, also a cricketer. Armaan talks to Kaleem about the practice session. He is practicing his drives while talking to Kaleem. After his father leaves, he meets his school teammate Vipul Rathod for updates about the Sportstar Trophy matches.
Armaan’s innings of 473 and 498 in the Harris Shield have been monumental. When asked how he felt at missing out on 500 on two occasions, he replies nonchalantly: “At least I was fortunate to score that many runs.”
Armaan also scored 290 in the final of the Vijay Merchant Trophy.
Raju Pathak, his coach at Rizvi School, says that Armaan is a complete team man, unruffled by circumstances. Pathak highlights Armaan’s innings of 263 against Anjuman (Urdu) as special. “We lost six wickets for 30 runs, but it didn’t affect Armaan’s batting. He took the onus and ensured that we didn’t collapse.
“When VN Sule Guruji got to 350-plus in the final of the Harris Shield, I was worried. But Armaan told me to relax. He scored a classy 473 against an attack that had very good bowlers who have represented Mumbai in junior level competition.”
It might be possible to see Wasim and his nephew Armaan donning the Mumbai colours soon. “To see uncle and me playing for Mumbai is my father’s dream,” says Armaan.
With Sachin Tendulkar turning up for Mumbai there are chances that he might feature alongside a legend. “To play with Sachin sir will be my honour,” says Armaan.
How does Armaan manage his final year school studies with this busy cricket schedule? “A tutor comes to their place and takes his classes from 7.00 pm to 10.00 pm. He realises the importance of education,” says Kaleem.
When asked about his goals for the future father Kaleem says: “I hope Armaan represents India for a long time and wins matches for the country.”
(Sarang Bhalerao hails from a family of doctors, but did his engineering. He then dumped a career in IT with Infosys to follow his heart and passion and became a writer with CricketCountry. A voracious reader, Sarang aspires to beat Google with his knowledge of the game! You can follow him on Twitter here)