The Lord of the Lord’s

…..Jadeja strolls his way
to his Test best and his first fifty. Upon reaching there he gets into a
sword dance, his bat brandishing like a naked sword. He is the king,
the warrior king, Lord’s his subjects, watching in awe, standing up to


Everything that you know to be true is false.

a) 26/11/2012 Mumbai: England plays India on a turning wicket (as per “request” from Captain Mahindra Singh “Cool” Dhoni).
b) 21/07/2014 London: India plays England on a green-top full of pace and swing (as per “request” from Captain Alistair Cook).

You know that India wins (a) and England wins (b). Utterly, butterly, completely wrong. 

The heroes for the historic win for India at Lords are (1) Ishant “bouncer” Sharma (ho ho ho), (2) Cheteshwar Pujara- the new Rahul Dravid, (3) dark horse, Ajinkya Ranade, (4) all-rounder par excellence, Bhuvneshwar Kumar (5) Mr Reliable, Murali Vijay, and yes…the destroyer Ravi Jadeja.

(2nd innings bat)
Murali Vijay
c Prior b Anderson
Shikhar Dhawan
c Root b Stokes
Cheteshwar Pujara
c Prior b Plunkett
Ravindra Jadeja
c Cook b Stokes
Bhuvneshwar Kumar
c Bell b Stokes
(2nd innings bowl)
Bhuvneshwar Kumar
Mohammed Shami
Ishant Sharma
Ravindra Jadeja
He wears gloves with fluorescent lines to Lord’s. He could play in a
singlet and denim shorts at Wimbledon…..
Within the first 10-15 minutes at the wicket, he has played awkwardly in
front of his body, he has charged at quick bowlers, he has looked
hopeless playing straight balls across the line, he has called for
ridiculous singles, he has charged down against spin and played a worse
shot than his predecessor did and perished doing, he looks like he does
not belong yet when you look at the scoreboard he is 23 off 20.

These are not any 23 off 20. These are 23 off 20 in a tense Test on a
pitch that has done a bit throughout the Test. These are 23 off 20 from a
time when India are effectively 179 for 6, in the middle of what looks
like a collapse, and with new ball around the corner.

You can see why he is so annoying to the opposition. A man who clearly
has no business batting at Test level, but the ticker he has in
abundance. Shane Warne on commentary talks about how he loves adversity. 
The Indian fans in the crowd go with a chant that has become a bit of a
cult: “Ooooo Raavi Jadeja, ooooo Raavi Jadeja.” A chant so catchy, the
man himself has amended his Twitter handle to reflect it.

Get out of the way, Ravindrasinh Anirudhsinh Jadeja is taking over Lord’s.

England, in response, are going helter skelter. They do not like
disorder; you cannot get on a bus here without an Oyster card and simply
pay in cash. Jadeja with the bat in hand is anything but order. He is
India’s Jaad In The Box. This is incredibly high-risk strategy. He can
easily nick off, get hurt, run out, get caught at mid-on, or even trip
over so awkwardly in his charging at the fast bowlers. 
This strategy is not for everyone, but for Jadeja it is life as usual.
Back home, at his farmhouse in Jamnagar, he resides with his Doberman
Rocky and four horses. He rides them without a saddle, forget knee caps
or a helmet. Flashy cars, look-at-me sunglasses, RJ or Ravi inscribed on
most of his belongings, he is a bit of a king, a warrior king,
befitting the name Jadeja. He does not like the pedigree Arabian horses
you get in England. He does not like James Anderson either. Anderson does not like him. They could both be banned for the next Test.  

So when Anderson comes out to bat on day three, the Raavi Jadeja
chant goes up in the stands. MS Dhoni yields to the demands and brings
Jadeja on. Anderson reverse-sweeps first ball, a shot that has brought
him runs at Trent Bridge. This pitch is different, though. The ball
bounces a little extra, and Anderson is caught at first slip.

A day later, the new ball is taken, Jadeja is batting like Jadeja does,
and England call upon Anderson, who removes the amazingly disciplined M
Vijay just short of a century. There has been no effect on Jadeja,
though. The second ball he faces from Anderson he dances down and
swings, gets a big inside edge that goes in the air, and just out of the
reach of square leg. Anderson responds with a short ball, but this time
Jadeja is in the crease and defends.

In the next over, bowled by Stuart Broad, Jadeja moves a touch across,
plays across the line, is nearly lbw and nearly caught off the leading
edge to the same ball, but that still does not pull him back. He gets a
shortish ball, into the hips, around middle and leg, but because he is
moving across, he can tuck it fine for four.

If they bowl short, he pulls in front of square, with no pretence of
elegance and so hard as if the ball is an object to be hated. In the
next over he charges at Anderson again, without warning or rhyme nor,
and somehow – not off the middle of the bat – drives him through cover
for four. Two balls later an inside edge saves him from being plumb lbw. 

Anderson is in his ear, he is mock-clapping Jadeja from mid-off as Broad
runs in to bowl from the Nursery End. He then lofts Broad back over his
head, his first correct and elegant shot. And follows it with a pull.
The pièce de résistance comes when he punches Anderson off the back
foot, through point, for a get-out-of-my-face four. He is already 40 off
29. The lead is now 236. India already have a fighting total, and
England are demoralised.

The field has spread, singles are available, and Jadeja strolls his way
to his Test best and his first fifty. Upon reaching there he gets into a
sword dance, his bat brandishing like a naked sword. He is the king,
the warrior king, Lord’s his subjects, watching in awe, standing up to
applaud. Those who laughed at him once laugh with him now.

Jadeja has not always been the king. He is as working class as it gets
when he bowls. Bowling ball after ball on the same spot hoping for some
natural variation with no pretence of being the spinner today’s Jim
Laker would conjure when dreaming of paradise. If MS Dhoni asks him to
switch to round the wicket, he switches round; if the captain wants
over, he goes over. 
In the field he chases after every ball in a manner
you would not associate with royalty. In the nets he painstakingly bats
for longer than any other batsman. One extra throwdown, one extra hit,
anything to do to become valuable to the team.

If the batsman represents the flashy royalty he has now become, Jadeja
the bowler and the fielder are the real Jadeja. He was not always this
rich. He used to go to cricket, away from home, with only Rs 10 in his
pocket. Forget exotic pets and feeding them and providing a playground,
the young Jadeja did not know where his next meal would come from. 

Jadeja gets out for 68, his job as royalty is done. Twenty minutes
later, the working-class hero is back on the field. As early as the
seventh over of the innings, his captain calls upon him. 
The first ball
slides in, hits Sam Robson on the pad, and appeals. The bat is awfully
close to the pad, the batsman seems to have been hit outside the line of
off, but Kumar Dharmasena raises his finger after long internal
deliberation. Replays show the ball has hit the pad fractionally before
hitting the bat, Hawk Eye says a smidgeon of the ball is inside the line
when it makes contact with pad, and that Dharmasena is right.

This is Jadeja’s day. Just give in. Resistance is futile. Go into the
stands, or out in the streets, and sing, “Ooooo Raavi Jadeja.”
Brown Pundits