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Ravi Jadeja’s suspension is the only thing stopping his relentless progress

Anindya Dutta Roar Guru

By Anindya Dutta, Anindya Dutta is a Roar Guru

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    He has played 32 Test matches, taken 155 wickets giving away an average of 23 runs per hapless victim. He is ranked the No.1 Test bowler in the world right now. And just to stamp his importance to Virat Kohli’s all conquering Test team, he also boasts a batting average of 30 coming in regularly at No.8.

    He is Ravindersinh Anuradhsinh Jadeja, descendant of a family boasting generations of warriors. A fact that has not been lost on every team that has had the misfortune of coming up against him over the past year or so.

    From nowhere, Jadeja has magically produced unplayable deliveries that have brought breakthroughs when nothing seemed to be going India’s way. And once he strikes, he quickly becomes dangerously penetrative. One wicket often becomes five. Nine five-wicket hauls in 32 Tests is testimony to his abilities.

    In March 2017, Jadeja joined Ravichandran Ashwin at No.1 in the ICC rankings for Test bowlers in what is the first instance of two spinners jointly claiming the top spot. He then bumped Ashwin off the pedestal and claimed sole right to keep that position, where he still remains.

    Not bad for a man who even a year or so ago was labelled a specialist of the shorter formats of the game and struggled to make the Test team.

    So exactly how good has his career been thus far?

    Only five spinners in the history of Test cricket have made their way to a 150-wicket haul faster than Jadeja – Sidney Barnes, Clarrie Grimmett, Saeed Ajmal, Shane Warne and Ravi Ashwin. That is not a list to be scoffed at.

    However, no left arm bowler has got there faster. Jadeja sits on top of an illustrious list that shows Mitchell Johnson languishing just below him, having achieved the feat in 34 Tests.

    The next target is clearly the 200-wicket mark. Sitting atop the record books here as the fastest to reach the mark are Clarrie Grimmett and Ravi Ashwin in 36 and 37 Tests respectively.

    While it is inconceivable that Jadeja will make it to this mark in the next five or six Tests, given the rich vein of form he is displaying, he can certainly dream of getting to 200 faster than the next two spinners on that list, Stuart McGill and Shane Warne, who took 41 and 42 Tests to reach the mark respectively.

    It’s worth looking at what has changed in the last year or so when his Test career, languishing after a promising start in 2012, has changed trajectory.

    Karthik Krishnaswamy, writing in ESPNCricinfo earlier this year, brought out some interesting thoughts.

    “Jadeja now looks more threatening on flat pitches than he used to, his changes of pace and trajectory keeping batsmen vigilant at all times where his earlier, metronomic style could occasionally bowl them into a rhythm.

    Now, if he sees a batsman negotiating him largely off the back foot, he’ll aim a round-arm dart at his pads. Or if a batsman is defending him off the front foot with his pad next to the line of the ball, wary of the threat of lbw, he’ll toss one up slower and wider. Sometimes, this may bring immediate results – think Jonny Bairstow scooping a catch to short cover in the first innings in Chennai. At other times, a batsman may simply slice the ball to backward point, off the outside half of his bat, then start bringing his front leg further across in defence, leading to an lbw further down the line.”

    Krishnaswamy goes on to draw an interesting conclusion:

    “What changed between his 16th Test against South Africa in Delhi and his 17th in St Lucia eight months later? One thing did change: India hired a new coach, and that man, Anil Kumble, had a career of two distinct halves. In the first half, he was a fast, non-turning legspinner who speared the ball into the stumps and let the pitch do the rest. In the second, he began flighting the ball more, varied his pace more frequently, and tasted far more success overseas. Jadeja could well be taking the first few steps of a similar journey.”

    That is a very interesting point indeed. While Kumble is not at the helm of affairs anymore following a bitter public fallout with Kohli, the man who has replaced him is not only an astute strategist, but in his playing days, Ravi Shastri was also a similar left-arm spinner to Jadeja.

    In an interesting parallel, Jadeja’s recent success as a batsman in addition to his penetrative bowling is actually a virtual replay of how Shastri’s own career evolved.

    So what will be the next target? Jadeja’s partner in crime, Ashwin, just became the fastest to reach the double of 2000 Test runs and 250 wickets in his 51st match. With 19 Tests to go and Jadeja looking to up the ante in both his bowling and batting, Ashwin’s reign at the top could conceivably be short lived.

    By suspending him for the next Test match for throwing a ball needlessly and dangerously while fielding, Richie Richardson may only have temporarily delayed Ravi Jadeja’s relentless march to the top of Test cricket’s most coveted bowler and all-rounder rankings.

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    The Crowd Says (37)

    • August 8th 2017 @ 2:03pm
      The Fatman said | August 8th 2017 @ 2:03pm | ! Report

      to be able to have the freedom to have humour sitting alongside moments that are deadly earnest, and the two actually balance out each other.

      • Roar Guru

        August 8th 2017 @ 2:38pm
        Anindya Dutta said | August 8th 2017 @ 2:38pm | ! Report

        I have to say i lost you there 😊

    • Roar Rookie

      August 8th 2017 @ 2:44pm
      savage said | August 8th 2017 @ 2:44pm | ! Report

      Jadeja success just shows how overrated is R Ashwin.Infact,jadeja has achieved more than R ashwin outside subcontinent as he got a 6-wicket haul in south africa . In AUS,NZ,SA,ENG R Ashwin averages 56.58 as a bowler.And someone was calling him Don Bradman of bowling.

      • Roar Guru

        August 8th 2017 @ 3:08pm
        Anindya Dutta said | August 8th 2017 @ 3:08pm | ! Report

        I don’t necessarily agree that Ashwin is overrated. One does not get the kind of success he has had by being a less than world class spinner. However, Jadeja has improved significantly over the past 12-15 months and is experimenting more than he ever was which is helping. Both are important for the team. Fortunately India has deep bench strength in spin at the moment with Kudleep and Chahal waiting in the wings.

    • Roar Rookie

      August 8th 2017 @ 2:53pm
      savage said | August 8th 2017 @ 2:53pm | ! Report

      I think india deserves no 1 ranking as they have done nothing wrong so far,whether they maintain their rankings we’ll see how well they perform overseas.Jadeja has been impressive in last 2 years but most impressive things about this Indian team is seamers.Shami has been by far most impressive bowler since 2015 as he has taken 40 wickets at an average of 26.29.Unlike our spinners,shami has’nt taken wickets on helpful conditions.

      • Roar Guru

        August 8th 2017 @ 3:10pm
        Anindya Dutta said | August 8th 2017 @ 3:10pm | ! Report

        Agreed. But Umesh is no less impressive and has become a phenomenal bowler over the last year after his stint with Subroto Banerjee, the current Jharkhand coach and former India fast bowler. Umesh and Shami are going to be a potent opening combination on the overseas tours that are coming up.

        • Roar Rookie

          August 8th 2017 @ 4:54pm
          savage said | August 8th 2017 @ 4:54pm | ! Report

          yes,Umesh has become phenomenal bowler.Tbh i was’nt big fan of him(especially in odi’s) as his bowling was quite erratic.he was woeful in 2016 odi series in Aus.but ever since 2016 odi’s vs New zealand,he has improved a lot.His spells in ranchi and dharmshala was probably the best spell i have seen by an indian seamer over the past couple of years.Some credit should also be given to his captain Kohli who has been quite impressive in handling Seamers.

          • Roar Guru

            August 8th 2017 @ 5:10pm
            Anindya Dutta said | August 8th 2017 @ 5:10pm | ! Report

            Absolutely right. Dhoni’s approach was very different.

    • Roar Rookie

      August 8th 2017 @ 3:21pm
      savage said | August 8th 2017 @ 3:21pm | ! Report

      “One does not get the kind of success he has had by being a less than world class spinner” World class spinner -Absolute NO,World class spinner in SC-probably yes. How can you consider him world class when he has done nothing in AUS,NZ,ENG and SA.By that logic,Jadeja(averages better than R ashwin in SC),Yasir Shah(done well in SC plus won them 2 matches IN England) and herath are also World class spinner.MY prediction of R ashwin is he will play at best 2 matches in south Africa(if that series happens) and then he will be dropped in place of kuldeep yadav(who outshone him in Dharmashala test against AUS).

      • Roar Guru

        August 9th 2017 @ 8:48am
        Anindya Dutta said | August 9th 2017 @ 8:48am | ! Report

        One does not take 286 wickets at an average of 25 in 51 Tests by NOT being a world class Spinner. It’s been a long time since he played in those countries and before he matured into the bowler he is today. So judge Ashwin in those countries based on how he does over the next year. Besides India in your books is easy to take wickets in, right? So why did Warne and Murali average above 35 in india? Not all bowling styles are suited for all pitches. A spinner who is a master on all surfaces is a myth. Our guns are trains on ashwim because we judge our own more harshly.

        • Roar Rookie

          August 9th 2017 @ 5:28pm
          savage said | August 9th 2017 @ 5:28pm | ! Report

          “One does not take 286 wickets at an average of 25 in 51 Tests by NOT being a world class Spinner” world class spinner does not averages 56.5 in AUS,NZ,SA,ENG.In same countries(that i mentioned) muralitharan(who was SC spinner) averages 26.5(now compare that with 56.5).i;m not saying ashwin is average bowler,he is very good bowler due to his great record in SC but just not world class(as he has not performed all over the world).”So judge Ashwin in those countries based on how he does over the next year”you’re Right,if does well overseas then i will consider him World class.”So why did Warne and Murali average above 35 in india?”Murali averaged 45.45 in india and shane warne 43.11 but you missed that they both had to bowl against likes of sachin,laxman,dravid,sehwag,sourav ganguly(Greatest batting team ever to play spin)so instead of criticizing murali,warne i will give credits to Indian batsmen. Ashwin also struggles against great players of spin(even in india),have you ever seen Ashwin trouble Steve Smith??”A spinner who is a master on all surfaces is a myth”yes,likes of ponting,lara,warne,murali all failed in India but they all are considered ATGs and rightfully so but R ashwin has not performed in more than 1 countries and its debatable whether R Ashwin is best spinner in Subcontinent As jadeja has taken 134 wickets at 20.74 whereas R Ashwin has taken 245 wickets at 22.59.
          I think 2015 was his peak year where he had great series against bangladesh,Sri lanka(was at his best) and south africa and dominated all quality batsmen whether sangakara,Amla,AB devilliers and Matthews.He was by far best spinner in 2015 WC.We’ll see how he performs overseas but if he still averages 55+ overseas at the end of his career would you still consider him as World class bowler?

          • Roar Guru

            August 9th 2017 @ 6:27pm
            Anindya Dutta said | August 9th 2017 @ 6:27pm | ! Report

            No I absolutely would not. Sure let’s wait and see. I prefer to give him benefit of the doubt at this stage.

            • Roar Rookie

              August 9th 2017 @ 8:05pm
              savage said | August 9th 2017 @ 8:05pm | ! Report

              ok,Difference btw you and me is that you are assuming that he will perform overseas and therefore giving him benefit of doubt but i’m not(cause i’m only judging him on present achievements).if he had even one substantial performance overseas then i’d probably also given him benefit of doubt.Remember centurion test(1st test vs then no 1 team South africa 2013) when india were trying to defend 458 on 4/5 th day.Now,imagine R ashwin took 3-4 wickets(on 5th day of test where you would expect spinner to dominate) and helped india won that test then i’d probably also considered him as world class spinner but instead he went WICKETLESS whole match and match was drawn.

              • Roar Guru

                August 10th 2017 @ 1:45pm
                Giri Subramanian said | August 10th 2017 @ 1:45pm | ! Report

                You keep quoting AUS, NZ, ENG and SA. Lets look little deep into that stats. Ashwin played just 1 test in SA which he was horrible on. He hasn’t played a single test in NZ yet. He played 2 tests in England and averaged 33 in them, not bad considering India were skittled out for under 150 in most of the innings and those were green tops. Australia is the only country Ashwin has played sizeable number of tests. Australia has been graveyard for spinners over the years. Even in 2015, Ashwin bowled very well on those flatbeds. You seem to be the one who goes by stats rather than actually watching test matches. He did not play the Adelaide test where the pitch was turning square, poor judgement from Kohli. If you see the rest of the 4 games, Ashwin out bowled Lyon. I am not giving you stats, you can get it from Cricinfo if you need.

                Your knowledge has to be questioned when you keep mentioning NZ when he has never played a test there. Also you say you are basing your judgement on his present achievements but what you are basing it on is by his past failures. Why is a bowler always treated different to a batsman? Anil Kumble’s first 10 years in test cricket, he averaged 40 outside India, this also includes tests in subcontinent. His averages as follows,

                Australia 90
                England 63
                SA 32
                NZ 40
                SL 42
                WI 30

                would you have dropped him from the team as well as someone who did not deserve to play in those countries again? During the same time he was ripping teams apart at home. Give the guy some space, home or away, he has won you tests. Lots of them, so give your icons some respect. We can pull apart any bowlers record as we want butcher them and prove they were not good,

                DK Lillie, considered as one of the greats of the game just played 4 tests in the subcontinent and averaged 70 odd (101 in Pakistan and 36 in SL, never played in India). Shall we say Lillie wasn’t a great bowler because he bowled only in bowling friendly conditions?

                And by the way, Jadeja averages 86 in NZ and 47 in England. I don’t think he should be picked for those countries either. See my judgement is based on his present achievements not by what he might be able to do if he visits again. See the flaw in that argument?

              • Roar Guru

                August 10th 2017 @ 2:11pm
                Anindya Dutta said | August 10th 2017 @ 2:11pm | ! Report

                Thank you Giri. The color and input is much appreciated. Everything you say here is right. Posterity will show us how badly a section of the Indian populace underestimated what Ashwin is doing for the country right now.

              • Roar Rookie

                August 10th 2017 @ 3:20pm
                savage said | August 10th 2017 @ 3:20pm | ! Report

                “Your knowledge has to be questioned when you keep mentioning NZ when he has never played a test there.” I know exactly he did’nt play in NZ(by that logic,i should’nt have added england where he has bowled in only 1 innings) as he was dropped in place of jadeja after his woeful performance in SA(took 0 wicket) and NZ odi’s(where he averaged 227).I only mentioned those 4 countries because he has to perform (atleast decently) in those countries at the end of his career to be called World class spinner(You can add WI,ZIM to help ashwin’s cause)”He did not play the Adelaide test where the pitch was turning square.If you see the rest of the 4 games, Ashwin out bowled Lyon” that’s actually fair point as he did bowl well in that series and also in 1 innings in Eng where he said he bowled as well as he could. From 2014 Wt20 to end of 2015,he was at his peak.
                “Anil Kumble’s first 10 years in test cricket, he averaged 40 outside India.would you have dropped him from the team as well as someone who did not deserve to play in those countries again?” ok He did’nt perform but was he called WORLD CLASS SPINNER AT THAT TIME?i hope not.He did average 37 overall in AUS,ENG,SA,NZ that’s why he is world class spinner.Also when did i said Ashwin needs to dropped,he will get his oppurtunity and if he fail In SA(like last time) he will be replaced by Kuldeep yadav.Setting muralitharan as benchmark (like Ashwin he was SC spinner)averages 26.5(in those 4 countries) less than half of what Ashwin averages at this Moment.LIke i said you are also assuming that he will perform overseas thus calling him World class spinner but if he does not improve his overseas average then like Anindya said he will not be considered as world class bowler.
                “Give the guy some space, home or away, he has won you tests. Lots of them, so give your icons some respect” I already said he is very good bowler not Some average bowler.

                Term “World Class” should not be thrown around unless player deserves it.if R ashwin is world class then i will also consider D Warner as world class player.

                you can call Ashwin World class Spinner but if he does not improves his overseas average,NO ONE outside India would rate him as World class Spinner.

    • August 8th 2017 @ 4:44pm
      Ritesh Misra said | August 8th 2017 @ 4:44pm | ! Report

      Excellent piece

    • August 9th 2017 @ 8:53am
      Kersi Meher-Homji said | August 9th 2017 @ 8:53am | ! Report

      To me Jadeja is not only a top all-rounder but a musketeer with his post-wicket “sword-waving”.
      Enjoyed your tribute, Anindya, to a man who gives his all.

      • Roar Guru

        August 9th 2017 @ 9:45am
        Anindya Dutta said | August 9th 2017 @ 9:45am | ! Report

        Thanks so much Kersi. Indeed, it’s a treat to watch him enjoy and compete in every aspect of the game.

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