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Wasim Jaffer snaps ties with Mumbai, joins Vidarbha

Wasim Jaffer snaps ties with Mumbai, joins Vidarbha

The move will end the right-hand batsman's two-decade long association with Mumbai, who Jaffer led to successive Ranji Trophy titles in 2008-09 and 2009-10.

Wasim Jaffer, the Mumbai stalwart, has moved to Vidarbha as one of their three professionals for the upcoming domestic season, the Vidarbha Cricket Association confirmed on Monday (June 22). The move will end the right-hand batsman's two-decade long association with Mumbai, who Jaffer led to successive Ranji Trophy titles in 2008-09 and 2009-10.

Jaffer, currently playing league cricket in England, is expected to apply for a 'No Objection Certificate' from the Mumbai Cricket Association upon his return.

"Any domestic side would love to have someone of the calibre of Wasim in their side, we're delighted," S Badrinath, the Vidarbha captain, told Wisden India. "We [at Tamil Nadu, for whom Badrinath played for a long time before moving to Vidarbha] have been at the receiving end of many of his knocks.

"Whenever we sat down for a meeting before a game against Mumbai, a lot of our focus would be on Wasim because of his knack of making huge centuries. So from plotting and planning against him to having his presence in our dressing room would be a big boost for our side."

Explaining the rationale behind the move Badrinath, who moved to Vidarbha last year after 15 seasons with Tamil Nadu, said Jaffer's presence would bolster the top order. "After the season concluded, we felt the weak link was right at the top of the order. So in that sense, we couldn't have asked for a better player than Wasim.

"Paras Mhambrey (coach) and I wanted to bring together an approach where players aren't playing within themselves. We wanted to just go out and exhibit fighting qualities, which we did. The result was a quarterfinal berth. Now with Wasim on board, if the senior players can take under their wings three-four young players, it would be fantastic for the team. So that is what we're looking to continue this year as well."

Pravin Amre, the former India batsman who coached Mumbai last season, was fulsome in his praise of Jaffer's contribution to Mumbai, but sounded quietly optimistic about his own team's batting stocks. "He's a legend. His achievements and services to Mumbai cricket have been monumental, and it won't be easy to fill his boots," Amre said. "But at the same time, he also leaves with Mumbai's batting in good hands.

"Youngsters like Akhil Herwadkar, Shreyas Iyer, Suryakumar Yadav, Sarfaraz (Khan) and Siddesh Lad have shown promise and the ability to take over the batting mantle. So this is a good opportunity for them to raise the bar and become more consistent."

More than missing an opener with immense experience, Amre felt Jaffer's absence as a motivator and mentor would be felt. "His commitment was something else. Even if he wasn't playing or was injured, he was always available to speak to the boys, talk to them and encourage them. So yes, it will be a loss," he said. "Wasim's hunger for the game even at 37 is remarkable and the players always looked up to him.

"Whenever someone failed with the bat, they only had to look at a tall figure in the dressing room for inspiration. Now, we'll be playing against him, but it is a chance for the youngsters to shine as well."

Jaffer, who played the last of his 31 Tests in April 2008, overtook Amol Muzumdar in 2011 to become the highest run-getter in Ranji Trophy history. He is just 241 short of becoming the first batsman to score 10,000 runs in the Ranji Trophy.