IPL 2022: Ravindra Jadeja’s IPL Journey Has Always Had Many Twists and Turns
IPL 2022: Ravindra Jadeja stepped down as CSK captain last week.
When the Indian Premier League (IPL) got underway back in 2008, Ravindra Jadeja was one of the bright spots in Rajasthan Royals’ triumphant campaign.
Fresh from his exploits in the Under-19 World Cup, Shane Warne spotted Jadeja and anointed him as his ‘rock star.’ Jadeja repaid the faith with his performances. The way Warne talked up Jadeja was unbelievable.
Here was a young man from the western-most region of India in Saurashtra, being spoken about by someone from one of the most Australian characters ever, Warne from Melbourne. If ever you could have two people from two remote worlds coming together, then this was the perfect example.
A year later, in 2009, Jadeja was the first-ever specialist T20I player chosen by Indian selectors for a series in New Zealand. He had truly made his climb up the ladder in a way that was expected of him. Elsewhere his captain from the 2008 Under-19 World Cup, a young man named Virat Kohli was also taking baby steps in his international career.
Banned for a Year
Jadeja very soon realised that the big bad world of professional cricket was not all rosy as it had seemed because he was banned for a season of IPL in 2010. He was on a two-year contract with the Rajasthan Royals and from the third year onwards, he had the option of moving to a new team.
It turned out that Jadeja had been violating the IPL rules and talking to multiple franchises. He was bought by RR for $30,000 in 2008 and they were keen to sign him for two more years in 2009, but Jadeja preferred it to be just a year's deal. After his contract expired in December 2009, he decided to go shopping for a better bargain, but this was against the player regulations of the IPL.
"Based on a unanimous decision taken by the IPL Governing Council and on instructions from the President of the BCCI, India cricketer Ravindra Jadeja was handed a one year playing ban. He will not be allowed to play for any IPL team for the next one year," the IPL said in a statement.
"The ban was on account of Ravindra Jadeja not signing the renewal contract with the Rajasthan Royals and attempting, instead, to negotiate a larger financial contract with some of the other IPL franchises. Thus, resulting in a serious non-adherence to the IPL player guidelines," the statement added.
The Glory Run
That was 12 years ago, and a lot has changed in Jadeja’s career since then. Post the Royals stint, Jadeja moved to Kochi Tuskers Kerala for a year before signing up with Chennai Super Kings and other than a court-enforced break in 2016 and 2017, Jadeja has been a regular in the Chennai line-up.
If he does not play in the Chennai XI, it kind of makes it an odd day for the faithful supporters of the team in yellow. He has been a regular fixture with his batting, razor-sharp fielding, and accurate left-arm spin. Injuries in the IPL have dented his India opportunities on occasion, but when it comes to Chennai, Jadeja has always aimed to be supremely fit.
In fact, this has been Jadeja’s time in cricket because he was finally coming into his own as a cricketer. His India career had been on an upswing. He had been given increased responsibilities in the Indian T20I line-up as the team's think-tank moved him higher up the batting order. He responded in kind and showed his prowess with the bat. He was making his return to the Indian line-up after yet another injury last year laid him low and made him miss the South African tour.
There were reports that Jadeja may even give Test cricket a complete miss to prolong his white-ball career. But in reply, he posted a cryptic post on social media to quell all the rumours. He did return to whites, and made a strong statement against Sri Lanka.
When the IPL 2022 season was about to get underway, Jadeja was in the best possible shape. It seemed like he was all set to take IPL by storm. Just when you thought Jadeja had it all laid out nicely for him, came the news that Mahendra Singh Dhoni had stepped down as Chennai captain and he was the nominated leader.
This was high praise and endorsement for Jadeja as a performer. It was a confirmation that his recent upswing as an Indian cricketer had contributed to his elevation to the most coveted job in an IPL team.
But did Jadeja feel the same way?
Jadeja appeared unsure and diffident. He tried his best to remain in charge of the line-up, but always behaved as if he was looking over his shoulder. Dhoni nursed him through the first couple of games and Jadeja could be seen fielding in the deep, minding his business like during his days as one of the boys in the line-up.
Eventually the bug did catch Jadeja and he gave in to the pressure. Dhoni was back in the saddle and firmly in control, yet again.
"At the end of the fifth-sixth-seventh (game) or the full season you don't want him to feel as if the captaincy was done by somebody else," Dhoni told the host broadcaster after a game back in charge. "So, it was a gradual transition where I said, 'Okay, this is what I will do. I will take care of the fielding angles and everything for the first game, second game. After that, you will have to decide on your own because that's the only way you will learn what captaincy is.' Spoon-feeding doesn't really help the captain. On the field, you have to take those crucial decisions and you have to take responsibility for those decisions," added Dhoni.
This was a stinging assessment by Dhoni of the man he had nominated as his heir apparent after the departure of another chosen one, Suresh Raina, had gone unsold. Dhoni’s clear-cut opinion about Jadeja must have definitely come as a surprise to those outside the system. But Jadeja clearly knew just why Dhoni made those comments.
The rib injury post abdicating captaincy did not come at the right time for Jadeja. As is the case with anything regarding Chennai, there is a veil of secrecy. First, they don’t speak at the right time, then they don’t nominate someone to speak on behalf of the side and prefer silence at most times, over talking about an issue. A media gag at most times is the most preferred media strategy for Chennai.
Hence speculation rose about Jadeja and his injury. That too because Jadeja had been unfollowed by Chennai on Instagram. If a statement had been officially made, which is yet to be made, then all this speculation would have come to a naught. But like when they ran the Indian side, the mandarins manning key positions with Chennai line-up believe engaging the media is an unnecessary evil.
News Flash: if you thought media was evil, you probably haven’t come around understanding how much bigger an evil social media can be if you don’t manage it well.
Guess they will never know as the 2022 season of IPL heads towards a complete downright disaster.
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