Anyone scoring 835 runs at an average of 75.90 in a Ranji Trophy season would’ve found favour with the national selectors. But not Wasim Jaffer, ignored for the first two Tests against Australia.
It need not be reiterated that he played a pivotal role in Mumbai winning their 40th Ranji title this season, getting half-centuries in seven of his 11 innings, including three tons and a match-winning 132 in the final against Saurashtra.
In the Irani tie too, he scored a solid 80 in the first outing and registered his 48th first-class ton in the second with another chanceless innings.
“Jaffer is one of the best Indian batsmen around and it is obviously disappointing for us that he’s not been selected,” Mumbai’s stand-in- skipper Abhishek Nayar said after the match. Jaffer will be 35 on February 16, but is he that old for a couple of seasons for India?
The selectors chose to go with Shikhar Dhawan and Murali Vijay, both of whom are more or less of the same mould as Virender Sehwag. Vijay does not quite have the numbers this year.
Besides his 266 and 116 in the last two Irani Cup matches, he averages 17.25 this Ranji season.
Yes, Test selection is not always based on numbers. Perhaps, there was something in Vijay’s Irani innings that may have convinced the selectors that he ought to partner Virender Sehwag.
Vijay seems to have worked on his game and it’s showing. Maybe, he should have been in the squad but as a reserve opener. Dhawan, a compulsive stroke player, has more of a one-day game (unless he proves his detractors wrong). He has a tendency to throw away his wicket, as evident in the first-innings of the Irani tie and in the second dig too when he went for a pull without getting his eye in.
Jaffer, with his steady game, could have complemented Sehwag’s brash. When he brought up his Irani century, there was a muted celebration, with only a raise of the bat towards his teammates. If ever a picture said it all.