Wasim Jaffer, who spent a vast majority of his career representing Mumbai, revealed that the enormous competition in Mumbai, back in the day, meant that 70s and 80s did not just cut it for batsmen. Jaffer further opined that strong internal competition is what made Mumbai a very strong side.
Having won a record 41 titles, Mumbai’s domination in Ranji Trophy is something that is well documented in the history of Indian cricket. Despite not enjoying much success of late, the domination of Mumbai on the domestic circuit, back in the day, spanned across generations - from the 1960s to the late 2000s - and an integral part of the same was the side boasting some of the best cricketers in the country. One amongst hundreds of world-class cricketers to have represented the Mumbai team is Wasim Jaffer, who broke all sorts of records playing for the domestic behemoth for nearly 20 years, starting 1996.
And the veteran batsman, who is the highest run-scorer in the Ranji Trophy history, revealed in a chat with Ravichandran Ashwin on YouTube that the primary reason for Mumbai’s dominance back in the day was the high standards that were set. Jaffer revealed that such was the pressure on the Mumbai batsmen that even 70s and 80s - and maybe sometimes even 100s - weren’t considered good enough, thanks to the competition demanding batsmen to score daddy hundreds.
"The Mumbai culutre was so strong that somebody scoring a 70, 80 or even a odd hundred didn't mean much - unless you kept knocking the door with big scores. That was something which was built within us (Mumbai players) that we had to always score a hundred,” Jaffer told Ravi Ashwin on the latter’s 'Formula for success with Ash' show on YouTube.
“We knew that we needed to keep scoring big time and again - in club cricket, in coporate cricket, everywhere - in order to get noticed. The upbringing was very tough and that, I feel, is one of the reasons why Mumbai cricket is very good. The cut-throat competition is too strong.”
A stalwart who remarkably played first-class cricket till the age of 41, Jaffer, who spent his last few years nurturing youngsters in Vidarbha, noted that young cricketers these days were focused on enhancing their fitness rather than honing their skills. Jaffer opined that younger cricketers need to focus on developing their skills till they are 25, after which they can shift their focus to fitness.
"I think nowadays a lot of youngsters don't give importance to the skill department. They need to do it. I think they are worried more about how they look - fitness-wise - and athleticism. I personally don't think you need to worry about fitness until you're 25 or 28 years of age.
“If you have the basic fitness, in my opinion, you should worry about how to hone your skills - be it a batsman or a bowler. I would say it's important to improve the skills at a young age and then focus on fitness after a set age, say 25."
Having scored close to 20,000 first-class runs, Jaffer called time on his glorious cricketing career in March, earlier this year.