For Jaffer, cricket is fun if you are scoring


For Jaffer, cricket is fun if you are scoring
Wasim Jaffer and Deana Uppal enjoying the India-Bangladesh contest on Thursday.

On the ground, fielding at the edge of the long-off boundary, Yuvraj Singh has the Bangladeshi fans loud and clear in his ear. The Tamim Iqbal-Mushfiqur Rahim partnership builds up. Iqbal spanks three fours off three balls from Ravichandran Ashwin — the fans go into frenzy, shouting “Bangladesh, Bangladesh”, throwing a stuffed tiger up in the air, waving their green flags with the red sun. 
Sitting in the row of seats behind them, the Indians are quieter. Among them sits an athletic-looking man with a familiar face — people whisper “Jaffer, Jaffer” as they direct furtive looks in his direction. It’s indeed Jaffer — Wasim Jaffer, who played 31 Tests and 2 ODIs for India.
Jaffer plays in the Stoke-upon-Trent league in the UK, and says his game is good. “I’ve been playing club cricket in the UK for many years,” says Jaffer. He’s been getting the runs, and says he’s happy. Surely, he misses playing for India? “I did initially, but now it’s OK,” says the 38-year-old. “I wish they’d picked me when I was scoring runs…”
He’s probably referring to the 2008-09 season, when he really piled it on — 1260 runs in the Ranji Trophy, with a triple-century. Jaffer did play some fine innings for India, including two 200s, and two 50s against England when India won the Test series here in 2007.  He’s doing well now. Is it more enjoyable to play in a club environment, because the pressure is less? “It’s enjoyable to play at any level if you’re scoring the runs,” Jaffer says with a grin.

The two ladies behind us happen to overhear the conversation on cricket — ‘Who did he play for,’ they ask. They are happy to get the answer: India. They’re happy to meet Jaffer, and one of them happens to be a public figure — it’s none other than Deana Uppal, the 2012 Miss India UK! Deana figured in the UK reality show Big Brother — the parent of India’s Big Boss — the same year. She’s had modelling assignments in India and UK, and is soon going to appear in a Punjabi movie, Hard Kaur.
“I travel between here and India,” she says. She follows cricket, she says, but not too closely to know the intricacies of the game, or recognise an ex-Test player such as Jaffer, and has been invited to watch this game.

A wicket falls. The Indians in the stands are roused. They’ve got a song for Jadeja — just a line actually, repeated over and over again. The song is not original — it’s been borrowed from the English fans. England’s fans used to sing: “Ravi Bopara… Better than Lara, And Sangakkara… Ravi Bopara…” 
Jadeja’s song goes “Ooooo Raavi Jadeja…. Ooooo Raavi Jadeja.” Well, that’s it. It started during India’s tour of England in 2014, and British fans of Indian cricket are keeping it alive.
England’s fans compose whole songs for their players, India’s fans generally go for chants such as “Sachin, Sachin” or “Kohli, Kohli” or “India, India”. It’s a brilliant and delightful innovation that over here, the fans have got to three words, including two belonging to Jadeja, and the third being “Ooooo”.

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