Kumar Shri Ranjit Singh Ji was an Indian who played Test cricket for England. Today, he is remembered with the prestigious Ranji trophy tournament held every year in Indian domestic cricket.
Ranji trophy is reminiscent of an institute that helps a student to graduate; graduation to the international stage where a chance is given to rub shoulders with the stalwarts of the game. This article will bring out a team where these students have performed with distinction yet the graduation degree has eluded them. Though, there are some for whom the graduation degree did not bring the laurels as their marks had predicted.
Taking strike at the position of number 1 would be Wasim Jaffer. Jaffer has one of the best techniques for the longest format of the game. His panache reminded of Md.Azharuddin and was regarded as the next big thing in India. He has scored 9023 runs in Ranji and holds the record of highest centuries to his name (31). Being unflappable in his approach in Ranji; his temperament was put to test when he played for India. His inconsistency led to his downfall after playing 31 Tests for India.
The opening partner of Jaffer would be Aakash Chopra. Chopra always had the temperament of a work horse. He is one of those players who would make sure that the shine of the ball goes away; making life easier for other batsmen. He was termed as a “slow starter” who could not score big when he played for India in 10 Tests. He has over 10,000 runs in first class cricket. His exploits with Rajasthan in the last season cannot be taken away from his armoury.
With a batting average of 54.06, Amarjit Kaypee is the best bet for the position of first down. He played his last season in 1999/00 and it took exactly 10 years to surpass his runs of 7623 in Ranji. He was avoided while picking the squad for Duleep Trophy. As a result, he was never picked to play for India.
Hrishikesh Kanitkar, with 7885 runs in Ranji and playing a pivotal role each time for his side becomes an instant choice for the position at number 4. He led the Rajasthan side to their first triumph in Ranji Trophy; making his leadership skills a good trait for the side to possess. He played just 2 Tests for India.
The veteran Amol Muzumdar is believed to be born in the wrong era of Indian cricket. With the likes of Tendulkar, Dravid, Ganguly and Laxman occupying the middle order, he never had a chance. He is the leading run scorer in Ranji trophy with 9105 runs. He has never been picked to play for India.
Ajay Sharma is remembered as a player who was given life ban for match fixing in the year 2000. But, even today he holds the record of most centuries in Ranji trophy (31) with 7438 runs to his name. He is a man whose first class average was the third highest of any player to have scored 10,000 runs only played one Test for his country.
The place for an all-rounder would be for Sanjay Bangar. He opened both with the bat and bowl for Railways. He has an average of 33 and 300 wickets to his name in first class cricket. He became the lucky mascot of Indian team whose luck faded out after 12 Tests.
Sunil Joshi became one of the oldest cricketers to retire at 42. He is a cricketer who had the talent but not the fight to hone that talent. He has 615 wickets in first class cricket. For India he played just 15 Tests.
The bowling department includes the like of Narendra Hirwani. He had a dream start to his career; claiming 16 wickets against West Indies in his debut. His magic fizzled out when he toured abroad and never returned back. Anil Kumble became the preferred spinner for India. He claimed 441 wickets in Ranji trophy. His domestic career lasted till 23 years and his Test career lasted for 17 Tests.
Rajinder Goel would be remembered as a player who was brilliant in Ranji but never had that luck to make him go the next level. He is the highest wicket taker in Ranji with 637 wickets at 17.28. Sunil Gavaskar had listed him in 31 idols in his book. He took 25 wickets in a Ranji season 15 times. He retired after the season 1984/85 but never played for India.
Dodda Ganesh is a player who understands the value of opportunities. He was the most successful bowler for Karnataka that boosted of the likes of Srinath, Prasad and Kumble. He claimed 365 wickets in first class cricket but got to play just 4 Tests for India where he failed to perform.
1. Wasim Jaffer
2. Aakash Chopra
3. Amarjit Kaypee
4. Hrishikesh Kanitkar
5. Amol Mazumdar
6. Ajay Sharma
7. Sanjay Bangar
8. Sunil Joshi
9. Narendra Hirwani
10. Rajinder Goel
11. Dodda Ganesh
All the above stated players are superstars in their own right. The cliché “unsung heroes” fits to them perfectly. “History repeats itself, opportunities don’t”; a quote no one understands better than them.