Top centuries at College Field -#4 Ajay Jadeja

‘The day Jadeja showed why he was heading for big things’         by Rob Batiste

DOWN the years English county sides have visited and, via what amount to little more than exhibitions, have given local cricket fans a glimpse of the sport at its best. But, in truth, such fixtures invariably feel hollow, false and unsatisfying. Much better are the matches against touring sides who are here to impress, here for a purpose and hungry to display their talents to the full.

Such was the case with the Delhi National Institute of Sport – Delhi Blues for short – when they chose to begin a long nationwide UK tour in August 1988 with a few days in Guernsey. Delhi were class.

Indian Test spinner Maninder Singh was a late withdrawal due to being needed for a Rest of the World game, but the talented Sikh’s absence was not felt at all such was the ability in the squad brought over by Gurcharan Singh, a former Indian national coach and now the driving force behind Delhi Blues.

Out on the pitch leading the team was former Indian Test star Kirti Azad, who in one of four games against local opposition sent one six soaring out of the College Field as if powered by a rocket launcher. The ball was still rising as it crossed Rue a l’Or in the direction of Le Foulon, a suitable last resting spot for a delivery treated with disdain.

But while Azad gave only glimpses of the ability which won him seven Test appearances and 25 one-dayers, youngsters bound for successful regional, national and international careers took centre stage, none more so than Ajay Jadeja. Although unrelated to the current Indian Test and short-game star all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja, Ajay Jadeja was quite the player himself.

Just 17 when he landed in Guernsey, Jadeja would develop into a national regular, particularly in the one-day format. Four years after his stylishly compiled unbeaten century against a full Guernsey XI at the College Field in 1988, he made his Test bow and over an eight-year international career would play 15 Tests and 196 one-dayers.

At the College Field be tamed an attack which included Miles Dobson, arguably Guernsey’s best-ever new-ball paceman, left arm quickie Dave Hearse and the fast but often wild Dave Thomas. Eight years on in a World Cup quarter-final against arch enemies Pakistan, he would score 45 off just 25 balls, including 40 off the final two overs from the legendary toe-crush specialist Waqar Younis.

Not that anyone should be surprised at his ability, given that in his blood relatives included K S Ranjitsinhji, after whom the Ranji Trophy is named, and K S Duleepsinhji, who gave his name to the other major trophy in Indian cricket, the Duleep Trophy. Given those rich bloodline links and his own career successes, such a shame then that 13 years after feeding himself on the Guernsey bowling, Ajay Jadeja would collect a five-year ban for match-fixing. That was 2001 but two years later the ban was quashed by the Delhi High Court and he was able to resume his career in the Ranji domestic competition. There was nothing fixed about the Guernsey games. Our men tried their best but were simply not in Jadeja’s class.

Match report from Guernsey Press Monday 7 August 1995        7th Aug 1995

by Rob Batiste       

IN WITH a great chance of a memorable victory at tea, a Guernsey XI lost their last seven wickets for only 45 to lose to the strong Delhi NIS side by 40 runs at the College Field. Kirti Azad’s generous declaration left the Guernsey XI 130 minutes and the mandatory 20 overs to score 191 to win, and when Miles Dobson was last man out 7.5 of those 20 overs were remaining. Unfortunately, Guernsey’s watching selectors cannot have learned much from a game in which the majority of the players required good performances to enhance their prospects of playing against Jersey.

Warren Barrett, stand-in skipper for rick-necked victim Ralph Anthony, Dobson and Paul Wakeford were the only three players sure of their Island places before the game, Delhi’s last and most prestigious of the four- match tour. The only player to improve his hopes of playing against the old enemy at Grainville next week was Richard Veillard, top scorer with 32. Apart from Veillard, Wakeford (28) and Barrett (14), no other batsmen hung around long and the bowlers managed only one wicket between them as Ajay Jadeja stroked a superb undefeated century and Hitesh Sharma and Kirti Azad made entertaining contributions.

Had there been a man of the match award on offer the adjudicator would have had to think long and hard in separating Jadeja and Sharma. While Jadeja’s 100 not out from 138 deliveries was a joy to watch, Sharma must have staked a claim for such a prize with a neat 57 and bowling figures of 7 for 59. After Barrett had put Delhi into bat the Indian openers made steady progress against the four-pronged seam attack of Dobson, David Hearse, Dave Thomas and John Beasley, the skipper bowling only a handful of overs for variety. Delhi reached lunch at 142 for no loss and the first-wicket partnership was worth 155 when Sharma paid the penalty for attempting to slog Dobson and his stumps were flattened. Sharma gave way to Azad, the former Test star, who announced his arrival by dancing down the wicket to his first ball from Dobson. He missed that one but made no mistake a couple of overs later when he skipped down the wicket to Hearse and smashed a huge straight six which bounced in the principal’s car parking space and headed, first bounce, into a neighbouring garden. To the disappointment of the few dozen spectators present Azad, having seen his young colleague complete his century with 12 fours, declared the innings and left the ground with a mere 19 from 15 balls to his name.

Having batted 149 minutes and faced only 42 overs for their 190, Delhi left themselves ample time to dismiss the home team, but Azad cannot have been too confident as Guernsey reached 62 for 2 at tea with Veillard on 18 and Wakeford 17, both batting well. Guernsey resumed needing a further 119 to win from 55 minutes plus 20 overs, but Sharma then avenged a Wakeford six over mid-wicket by having the Pilgrims player caught for 28. With Sharma bowling an immaculate line and Pradeep Jain, the left-armer, delivering an improved spell from the Rue a 1’0r end, Veillard and Barrett had to gather all their concentration just to survive let alone keep the scoreboard ticking over. Eventually Veillard was bowled shouldering arms to Sharma and when Beasley did likewise to Jain six runs later the end result was the same. Two runs later Barrett’s 47min stay came to an end, caught by one of many close catchers, and the finish was not far away.


Delhi HIS

A Jadeja       not out                                                 100

H Sharma                         b Dobson                          57

K Azad         not out                                                 19

Extras                                                                      14

Total (for 1 wkt dec)                                                          190


Dobson 11.5-4-33-1, Hearse 12-1-54-0, Thomas 5-0-44-0, Beasley 9-3-30-0, Barrett 5-0-18-0

Guernsey XI

S Mackay     lbw               b Soorma                         4

R Veillard                         b Sharma                         32

M Bacon       c Azad          b Fotebar                          11

P Wakeford c Gopat        b Sharma                         28

J Beasley                          b Jain                               0

W Barrett     c                  b Sharma                         14

G Kimber      lbw               b Sharma                         4

P Smith        not out                                                 12

D Thomas    c Joshi          b Sharma                         4

D Hearse                          b Sharma                         8

M Dobson                         b Sharma                         8

Extras                                                                      25

Total                                                                        150


Soorma 4-12-1, Fotebar 10-2-33-1, Jain 9-4-19-1, Joshi 6-1-16-0, Sharma 15.1-1-59-7