Ravindra Jadeja is 80 per cent of Alf Valentine: Salim Durani

India’s cricketers continue to somewhat make up for the mayhem within the Board of Control for Cricket in India.

Salim Durani
Salim Durani

Yesterday, Ravindra Jadeja was named as the leader of the International Cricket Council’s rankings for one-day international bowlers, a position he shares with West Indies spinner Sunil Narine. The Indian all-rounder jumped four places to the top.

He is the first Indian bowler to scale this peak since Anil Kumble in 1996. Kapil Dev and Maninder Singh are others in this short list.

Jadeja is the leading wicket-taker with 38 wickets from 22 ODIs this year. He claimed five wickets in the just concluded series in Zimbabwe where Virat Kohli’s team triumphed 5-0.

Salim Durani, who like Jadeja hails from Saurashtra, was over the moon on hearing the news of Jadeja’s rise in the rankings. “He deserves all the praise he is getting. Everything about his bowling is exemplary and he is reaping the rewards for his hard work,” Durani told MiD DAY.

Ravindra Jadeja
All-round appreciation: Ravindra Jadeja celebrates with his captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni (left) after claiming the wicket of Sri Lankan dangerman Mahela Jayawardene during the ICC Champions Trophy semi-final at Cardiff on June 20. PIC/Getty Images

He then went on to draw a massive similarity — with Alf Valentine — the great West Indian left-arm spinner who was famous for bowling with his cap on in the 1950s and 1960s.

“I would say Jadeja is 80 per cent of Valentine, who I was fortunate to play against in the West Indies on the 1961-62 tour. Of course, he was over the hill by then, but Jadeja is similar to him with his three to four-step run-up and release,” said Durani.

“Jadeja bowls with his shoulder and uses his palm well too. He rolls the ball with four fingers and that is why he is able to get that extra bounce.

“He has immaculate line and length and I reckon he deceives the batsmen in his change of trajectory. Valentine was like that as well,”  he added.

Durani felt that Jadeja’s mental make-up too has contributed to his success. “I’ve never seen him flustered. His calmness is quite a factor and to top it all, he is a great trier.”

The 78-year-old former player cannot forget the first time he saw Jadeja bowl. “Some years ago, I saw him at the Cricket Club of India at a camp conducted by Nari Contractor, Hanumant Singh and Vasu Paranjape.

He looked good. A little later, I saw him bowl at Jamnagar and he was picked for Saurashtra soon after that. I wasn’t surprised,” he said.

Jadeja was the best bowler in India’s successful 2013 Champions Trophy campaign where he claimed 12 wickets in five matches. His unbeaten 33 and 2 for 24 earned him the Man of the Match award in the final against England.

So who is Alf Valentine?

According to his profile on ESPNCricinfo, “Valentine was tall, and bowled briskish left-arm spin with a whirling action. He ripped the ball savagely: one of his team-mates thought he could probably turn the ball on glass.”

Alf Valentine
Alf Valentine pictured on the 1957 tour of England. PIC/Getty Images

Valentine figured in 36 Tests and claimed 139 wickets. Along with Sonny Ramadhin, he made life hard for the Englishmen in the summer of 1950.

The words, “those little pals of mine, Ramadhin and Valentine,” figured in a famous Calypso. He claimed 30 wickets in seven Tests against India spread over two series (1952-53 and 1961-62),

In the 1953 drawn Test at Kingston, he claimed nine Indian wickets. He died at the age of 74 in Florida on May 11, 2004. 

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