Jog your memory a little and you'll find visuals of a tentative Ravindra Jadeja, especially when new at the crease in Test cricket. He had this reputation of the one with three triple centuries in first-class cricket but it was a hard sell on most days. Still, you knew that the man had some ability.
Truth be told, he was never really in the conversation for the top all-rounders in India, let alone in the world.
Fast forward to 2022 and Jadeja batting at No. 7 and scoring an unbeaten 175 without breaking a sweat doesn't seem surprising at all. In fact, he looks more like a No. 4 batter batting at No. 7 to mess with the opposition's head.
As Ravindra Jadeja became the first-ever cricketer to score more than 150 runs and pick up a 9-wicket haul in the same Test match, the time is ripe to consider him for the honour of the best all-rounder in Test cricket, for India at least, if not globally.
A double century and a 10-wicket haul in the same Test match would have been the ultimate achievement, nevertheless Jadeja still succeeded in joining the elite list of cricketers with a century and 5-wicket haul in the same Test match as he became only the fourth Indian to do so after Vinoo Mankad, Polly Umrigar, and Ravichandran Ashwin: his partner-in-crime Ashwin having achieved the feat thrice.
Think of the greatest all-rounders that India has produced in Test cricket and some names jump out at you instantly. Among them are Kapil Dev and Ravi Shastri.
Going chronologically, Vinoo Mankad was among the first Indian all-rounders with truly world-class ability. With Test matches being far and few between them in his career, which spanned from 1946 to 1959, he represented India on 44 occasions and made 2109 runs at 31.47 with five centuries, six half-centuries and the best of 231.
Mankad captured 162 wickets, not including those at the non-striker's end, which brought the much-debated term Mankading in the game. The all-rounder also has 10 4-wicket hauls, eight 5-wicket hauls, and two 10-wicket hauls to his name.
His contemporary Polly Umrigar debuted for India in 1948 and played his last Test match in 1962. In this decade and a half, Umrigar scored 3631 runs at 42.22, with the help of 12 centuries, 14 half-centuries and the best of 223.
Umrigar picked up 35 wickets at 42.08, which leaves more to be desired but given the era in which he plied his trade, three 4-wicket hauls, two 5-wicket hauls, and a stellar economy rate of 1.87 are still no ordinary figures.
Then comes the Dev-Shastri generation. Kapil Dev was obviously the senior between the two, having made his India debut in 1978. Part of the all-rounder quartet including Richard Hadlee, Imran Khan, Ian Botham and himself, the four star cricketers hogged the limelight for more than a decade.
India's best all-rounder tag hanging around his shoulders at the moment, Dev scored over 5000 runs from 131 Test matches at an average of 31.05 with the best of 163. He struck 8 centuries and smashed 61 sixes in his sparkling career.
Not to forget that he was the leading, and on some occasions, the only pacer in the Indian line-up and finished with 434 wickets, the world record at the time, at 29.64 with 23 5-wicket hauls to go along with 17 4-fers.
His contemporary, Ravi Shastri amassed 3830 runs from 80 Test matches, most of those being tough runs which came in overseas conditions against fierce pace bowling attacks where he often found himself opening the batting. Shastri kept moving up the order through his career and finished with 11 centuries, 12 half-centuries and the best of 216.
The lanky slow left-arm orthodox also claimed 151 wickets with the best match figures of 8/179.
Then, there are the likes of Irfan Pathan, Ajit Agarkar, and Anil Kumble who were predominantly bowlers but had some skill with the bat as well. Hardik Pandya, on the other hand, has shone bright on occasions, but doesn't have a big enough sample size yet to be a part of the conversation.
India are lucky to have two excellent spin bowling all-rounders in Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja in the same generation. With Rishabh Pant batting at No. 6, one can only imagine the agony of the opposition bowling attacks with them having to contend with Pant, Jadeja and Ashwin at No. 6, 7 and 8. And that's if and when they are able to get past the likes of Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli.
There somehow seems to be a bias against Ashwin for him to be considered among the best all-rounders going around, but close to 3000 runs at 27.14 and 5 Test centuries are no joke. Add to that his hat-trick of a ton and 5-wicket bag in the same Test.
His bowling deserves, but doesn't need, any compliments, with him now having overtaken Kapil Dev to climb to the second spot in the all-time list for India, only behind Anil Kumble.
An update might be coming soon, but as things stand, Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja occupy the second and the third spots in the ICC Men's Test all-rounder rankings, with Jason Holder at the top.
Jadeja definitely is a more all-round all-rounder with him capable of impacting the match much more even in overseas conditions, courtesy of his batting which has undoubtedly come a long way over the last three-four years. Ashwin, on the other hand, is a beast in the conditions of the subcontinent both with bat and ball.
Apart from 241 wickets at 24.28, Jadeja has now aggregated 2370 runs from 58 Test matches at a brilliant average of 36.46 which has shored up due to a number of not-outs. He has struck two centuries and 17 half-centuries and can now certainly be called the best No. 7 in any Test XI around the world.
The list of Jadeja's eye-watering records goes on and on with him even rivalling heavyweights like Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma in terms of consistency. Jadeja scores a half-century every 3.1 innings while Kohli and Sharma do it every 3.0 innings.
The Jamnagar stallion also holds the record for the highest percentage of runs made with the lower order, that is, after the fall of the sixth wicket with a cut-off of 1000 runs. Jadeja finds himself among a handful of cricketers who have scored 1000 runs and taken 100 wickets in their Test career. He has also achieved the rare feat of taking 20 wickets and scoring 250 runs in a Test series.
A pecking order can only be established once the film has played out to its full. That said, Ravindra Jadeja will certainly give Kapil Dev a run for his money whenever India's greatest all-time all-rounder in Test cricket is talked about.