After guiding Vidarbha to their second successive Ranji Trophy title, Wasim Jaffer has come out and said that in the current landscape of Indian cricket, the IPL is a must to be selected for the national team.
Jaffer may not have hit glorious highs in international cricket but he is a household name in the domestic circuit. The former India international is the only cricketer to have scored over 11,000 runs in Ranji trophy and has 10 titles – 8 with Mumbai and 2 with Vidarbha.
Despite his success in the longer format of the domestic game, Jaffer could only play 31 Test matches for India, the last of which was 11 years ago. Thus, the 40-year-old believes that at the moment, it would be foolish to idolise players like him. In the same context, he also brought up players of his mould Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane.
"It would be foolish for younger players to follow us (Jaffer, Rahane, Pujara) to be honest. We played in a time where there was hardly any T20 cricket, but nowadays there is so much T20 cricket," Jaffer told rediff.com in an exclusive interview. "It would be foolish for any young cricketer to follow us. They might play like us, but they need to have T20 skills in them also."
In the same ilk, Jaffer spoke about how the structure of making it to the national team has changed over the years. While previously the domestic tournaments like Ranji Trophy, Duleep Trophy and Irani Trophy was the pathway, now the players need to have T20 skills to make it to the highest level.
"This is how the system is working now. The times have changed. Nowadays, I feel a player need to have T20 skills otherwise he is not going to survive. No matter how much runs you score in the Ranji Trophy or Duleep Trophy or Irani Trophy, if you don't have T20 skills in batting or bowling, you are not going to go too far."
He went on to say that now the IPL is the benchmark for getting selected to the national team and hence he can understand why the new breed moulds their game to suit the T20 mode. He added that if one does not play the IPL, his career has a glass ceiling.
"Obviously, they look into that and they prioritise their game accordingly to suit T20 cricket which I don't think is their fault. That is how the system works now and they want to get noticed," Jaffer opined.
"They know if they don't play the IPL, they won't get too far. The IPL gives them the benchmark for them to get picked for the Indian team. You can't blame them because you need to have T20 skills otherwise you are not going to play too much cricket."
Jaffer scored 1,037 runs in 11 matches this season and in the process became the only batsman to score over 1,000 runs in a Ranji season for the second time in his career.