Wasim Jaffer © PTI
Wasim Jaffer © PTI

Having played 22 seasons in India’s premier domestic tournament — Ranji Trophy — Vidarbha‘s Wasim Jaffer is still hungry for more success. He terms the sport as ‘my bread and butter’ and lavished praise on coach Chandrakant Pandit following Vidarbha’s maiden Ranji title, beating Delhi by 9 wickets on January 1, 2018.

Jaffer made a handful appearance for India in Tests and ODIs. Having played 31 Tests, Jaffer averages 34 with five hundreds and 11 fifties. Nonetheless, Jaffer didn’t bog down despite his sporadic presence in Team India dugout. He said,”Playing for India is not the be all and end all….I had been there and done it. I just wanted to continue playing. I wanted to stay fit, face fresh challenges and do my bit for other teams. It also helped me to make some money. I don’t do anything other than play cricket. That’s why I go to UK every year with my family.”

Jaffer, as a result, kept himself occupied in the Yorkshire, Birmingham and Liverpool leagues for almost two decades, and will be playing in the Lancashire league.

In addition, Jaffer praised the ‘quality’ of players in Vidarbha, and stated Pandit’s role in their total revamp. “There was no quantity, only quality; players were equipped with good skills. There were only 25-30 probables who played across all formats.

They were happy winning at home and fine with it. When they lost away matches, I don’t think they were hurt. It’s here that Chandu (Pandit) played the decisive role. He took them out of the comfort zone and pushed them hard. He did not praise them enough, but criticised them. Two years ago, I found out that when the match was in a 50-50 situation, they did not really go for it and show the killer-instinct. Chandu changed their attitude completely. Vidarbha needed someone like Chandu,” asserted Jaffer.

What helped in team development?

“Here we had committees for entertainment, travel, food etc. This helped in team bonding. Chandu also changed room partners to prevent players forming groups. This was one way he took them out of the comfort zone and pushed them really hard.

I also impressed upon Chandu to give opportunities to Aditya Sarwate and what a partnership developed between him and Akshay Wadkar against Delhi. Vidarbha has good players in Lalit Yadav, Rajneesh Gurbani and Akshay Wakhare. Faiz Fazal has years of experience. Someone like Karn Sharma had to sit out.

They have the confidence now. Chandu has instilled that attitude in the team,” concluded Jaffer.

In the recently-concluded Ranji Trophy 2017-18, Jaffer amassed 595 runs with one century (158 not out against Goa) and three half-centuries at 54.09.