Wasim Jaffer. (TOI Photo)
NAGPUR: Having served Vidarbha with distinction as a player, Wasim Jaffer was hoping to do the same as coach. However, the lack of communication made his decision to move to Uttarakhand as a coach easier.
Jaffer is disappointed and hurt by the way he was treated, especially by Vidarbha Cricket Association vice-president Prashant Vaidya.
“I had spoken to Prashant (Vaidya) and had shown my interest in coaching Vidarbha. He had offered me the role of batting consultant but since I had spent sufficient time with Vidarbha, I wanted to be head coach (of Vidarbha). It would have been a smooth transition for me since I knew the boys very well and also the system,” Jaffer told TOI.
“For the last three years, I was handling the boys under Chandrakant Pandit. I was quite attached to Vidarbha. I have always said that Vidarbha is like a second home for me, but if I don’t get any response, I have no option but to move on,” said a disappointed Jaffer.
According to him, Vaidya had said he would get back to him after May 17 when the (third) lockdown ends. “I again contacted him around May 25. I repeatedly called and texted him for two-three days but didn’t get any response. I was getting a few offers from other state associations but I had kept Vidarbha as my priority,” he said.
“Since, I got no response from him I thought it was clear that he wasn’t interested in having me as head coach. It was very disappointing not to get any communication from his side, especially when someone has played and served Vidarbha so much,” the former India opener said.
It’s the lack of communication that hurt Jaffer the most. “I am not disappointed that they haven’t taken me as coach. It would have been perfectly alright for me if they had said NO. I understand everyone has different ideas and vision, but not picking up calls or responding to my messages at all hurt me the most. If they were waiting for a meeting, they could have told me to wait. I would have definitely waited. But without any communication what would I perceive? I got the message that he is avoiding me,” Jaffer said.
Jaffer has scored 2,565 runs at an average of 51.30 for Vidarbha in 37 appearances. His best for Vidarbha came in Irani Trophy in 2018 when he slammed a magnificent 286 against Rest of India side. Jaffer inked a two-year contract with Vidarbha in 2015-16. However, he couldn’t play the next season due to injury. The Mumbaikar wanted to play for Vidarbha without any professional fees in 2017-18 but struggled to get in touch with Vaidya.
“It was a similar situation in 2017 when I was trying to contact him to play. I had also emailed them that money is not an issue. Since I enjoyed my first season, I wanted to continue to play for Vidarbha and also wished to retire from here, which I eventually did,” he said.
Jaffer said when Pandit joined as coach, he initiated the whole thing. “I will always be grateful to Pandit. When I played the first season for Vidarbha, I liked the place, enjoyed the atmosphere and company of the players. I have hardly shifted teams in my career. I have played all my life for Mumbai. I have been working and playing for Indian Oil Corp since 1996. I played my club cricket for National Cricket Club for 20-odd years,” he pointed out.
Jaffer, however, doesn’t have any bitter feeling against VCA and players. “I would always want Vidarbha to do well and carry on the legacy we left. I have some great memories, which I will always cherish. I want to see a Vidarbha youngsters to represent India ‘A’ and India,” he said.
When TOI contacted Vaidya, he refused to take calls and also didn’t reply to messages. However, VCA sources, who were close to the developments, said they had offered a full-time batting consultant position to Jaffer.
“By no means, it was a part time thing. There was an informal discussion about his role as batting consultant. Jaffer is one of India’s greatest domestic batsmen. So, we wanted to utilize his expertise for our batsmen right from Under-14 to Ranji Trophy group. Vaidya alone doesn’t take cricketing decisions. The decisions are always taken collectively by our executive committee. Due to continuous lockdown, we couldn’t hold the executive meeting where we would have discussed this issue,” a VCA source said.