Ravindra Jadeja filled in the shoes of a dependable all-rounder Indian cricket had been looking for since 2003. Jadeja went on to successfully prove why he deserves to be in the Indian squad. It is no mean feat for a cricketer to make his international debut in 2009, and become the most expensive player to be bought in the IPL fifth season just three years later (2012) for a whopping 2 million by CSK. This was a time when icons like Sachin and Sehwag were still playing.
Ravindra Jadeja’s story is shadowed because of the era he is playing in. We have many legends playing together, and each one so inspiring that probably Jadeja’s story has failed to become the talk of the town. Nonetheless, it is humbling, encouraging, and motivating for each individual who wants to give up on his dreams when times get rough.
Born on 6 December 1988 in a small town, Navagham Ghed, Gujarat to a security guard and a nurse, Ravindra Jadeja has experienced a tough childhood. Jadeja caught fancy of cricket while playing in gullies, and later on school playgrounds. He was dominated by his seniors who never gave him a chance to bat. This upset the young Jadeja who came home crying every time after a game and was inconsolable for days. His mother realized his passion for the game and wanted him to pursue his heart. Hence, breaking all stereotypes implied on a working woman, she started working with double efforts as a nurse to save coins for his son’s dreams.
Anirudh Jadeja, Ravindra’s father, took him to his acquaintance, Mahindra Sinh Chauhan, a policeman by profession, and a cricket coach by passion who coached young kids in cricket in his quarters, popularly known as “Cricket Bungalow” locally. Jadeja was initially interested to explore fast-bowling, but on Chauhan’s insistence, he was made to bowl as a mainstream left-arm orthodox spinner, while also shaping his batting skills. This is where the foundation of the future Indian all-rounder was laid. Though Chauhan is to be credited for sowing the seeds of skills in young Jadeja, being friendly is not how exactly one could describe him. He was extremely strict with his pupils, and in the course of learning, Jadeja was slapped many times for his trivial mistakes. This might have psychologically affected a young lad, however, the special tips taught by Chauhan has greatly influenced his bowling ability.
His finances at home were extremely tight. Being from a small town also restricted his access to various paid tournaments. However, Jadeja was so in love with the game that he never complained about things that weren’t in his control. He started playing state junior cricket for Saurashtra- U-14 and U-17 teams and soon created ripples with his consistency as an all-rounder in all the games. He had just started to gain confidence and hope that one day his cricket could help them escape their miseries. A person who bet blindly on Jadeja’s abilities, more than he himself dared to was his mother, Lata. She dreamt of seeing her son in a blue jersey, and her dream fueled Jadeja’s passion. However, even before Jadeja could make it to the U-19 world cup team, his mother passed away. This devastated Jadeja completely, and failing to cope up with the loss, he depressingly decided to quit the game altogether. After all, his dream was to see his mother’s smile when she saw him in the blue jersey, and with her no more around him, he found no purpose in his cricket. However, as luck would have it, he was picked up for the U-19 World Cup of 2006, and he reluctantly agreed. That World Cup changed his fate, and the destiny of Indian Cricket as well.
Since then, he became a star of the U-19 circuit, earning him a spot in Rajasthan Royals in the first season of IPL in 2008, even before he made his international debut. While recruiting domestic players might be a common trend in IPL now, back then, in order to boost the popularity, teams only relied on popular household names. Shane Warne, then RR captain called Jadeja as a “superstar in making”. This speaks in magnitude about Jadeja’s skills. He made his international debut in 2009 against Sri Lanka. However, the biggest turning point of his career was in 2012 when he was roped into CSK franchise for 2 million, the highest bid upon the player of that season. Here, under the leadership of Mahendra Singh Dhoni, he sharpened his skills to become India’s finest all-rounder. Though he played magically with his ball, Dhoni, in fact, calls him his go-to batsman in the times of crisis.
Since then he has always been playing his role dutifully and silently contributing to the many victories of India. He has not only become the star bowler, but his fielding has also been touted as one of the finest in the world. There’ve been only a few games when the ball has managed to get past Jadeja. In the recent World Cup Semi-final when India had lost all hopes of winning, Jadeja assumed his responsibility, and with his brilliant knock-outs almost had us win the game.
What people see about Jadeja is his flamboyant attitude, wit, humour, and self-indulgence. Like I said, his skills are largely understated because of the legends he is surrounded by, and playing with.
He is what he is because a young boy, brought up in extreme poverty in a family of a security guard and a nurse, dreaming to represent the country in a game that every child of this nation desires to play; all this, despite being bullied, insulted, treated unfairly at times since childhood, refused to give up on his mother’s dream of seeing him in a blue jersey.