Unpopular, but fair call
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Yes, at a time when Indian cricket is bemoaning a lack of quality openers, he stands out as a behemoth both in terms of numbers and class. Yes, be it experience or runs up his sleeve, Wasim Jaffer has both. But did the veteran opener entail a dramatic recall for the Tests against Australia? Many have shed tears for Jaffer after the likes of Shikhar Dhawan and Murali Vijay were picked ahead of him as Gautam Gambhir's replacement. While there are reasons supporting their outcry, there are probably even more in support of the snub.
Jaffer, who last played for India five years ago, is four days short of turning 35. Age doesn't have much to do with it generally. But in this case it probably does. More so because the Test team is in a state of transition. Not to forget that the selectors have shown an inclination towards phasing out their tried and tested ageing lot.
Having decided to axe Gambhir, Sandeep Patil & Co were left with two choices. Going with a quick-fix stop-gap in Jaffer or throwing a younger opener into the deep end with a big picture in mind. Post Australia, India's next Test series will be in South Africa. And with an average of 21.72 in 11 matches in England, Australia and South Africa, Jaffer hasn't set the stage on fire in those testing climes.
A recall for Jaffer apart from pleasing the romantics wouldn't have been the first time a team in distress had sent an SOS call to an old-stager. Bob Simpson was forced out of retirement in the 70s when World Series cricket had left the Australian team in disarray while Brian Close was brought back after a nine-year gap to face the tunes of the West Indian pacers. In 2009, many experts touted Mark Ramprakash, 39, as England's messiah for the Ashes decider, seven years after he'd played his last Test. The selectors instead went with Jonathan Trott, who scored a ton, won the Ashes and became his country's most prolific No.3 in more than a decade. Only time will tell whether Dhawan or Vijay back this unpopular decision as compellingly.
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