Jadeja urges better communication from DDCA
In the aftermath of the comical controversy, in which Ishant Sharma was left out of Delhi's Ranji Trophy squad as he didn't respond to phone calls and text messages, the team's newly appointed coach Ajay Jadeja has admitted there is a need to "communicate better with the media." After the issue generated headlines, Ishant was included in the squad though he only made himself available from the second game of the season, leading to another round of embarrassing headlines for the Delhi & Districts Cricket Association (DDCA).
"I think we need to get better at communicating with the media and putting out clearer statements and making life easier for the media, so that they can have the right story and have one person talk about it," Jadeja told ESPNcricinfo. "For the players, there should not be pressure on them to reply to the media or even for the selectors. We need to get better at communication, but every story that I have read says the same thing. The headlines keep changing, the stories say the same thing - that when he is ready, he will walk in. I don't think anyone who has played the game or been around the game would question that. Which team in India would not like Ishant to play for them if he is available?"
Jadeja, 44, comes into the role of head coach at a tricky time for Delhi cricket. Reports of rampant factionalism have dogged the early part of the season. Veteran players, such as Virender Sehwag and Mithun Manhas, have moved on to other associations, while some, like Rajat Bhatia, have been dropped altogether. Jadeja, who came through age-group cricket in Delhi and has played for the state in the past, recognises the challenges that await him.
"Since it (Delhi) is the capital, it is always in the news, mostly not for the right reasons but fortunately till now I was given an offer to work with the team a few days ago," he said. "I must confess that I haven't faced a problem till now. The team has been picked by three selectors who are chosen by the government. I have been gratified by the association. I heard that there were three teams that were first put out but at the moment, things are looking good and that is what we hope."
In the absence of this core group of senior players, Delhi have named a young squad. Jadeja, who has been a player-coach in his stints at Haryana and Rajasthan, is excited about the opportunity to shape young careers.
"For any coach, when you have young players coming in, their mindset or game plans are not set. It is easier to mould someone who is young and does not have set ideas," he said. "I think it becomes easier for a coach when you have someone who is 18, 19 or 20, and not too experienced. It is easier to chat and talk to them because they are open to ideas whereas all of us who get old and are coming towards the end of our careers, have made up our mind that this is our limit, this is the way I play and I don't want to tread a new path and I know what I am doing."
Jadeja also expects to forge a strong working relationship with captain Gautam Gambhir, the only player of international pedigree available for Delhi at the start of the season. While conceding that they have few shared interests outside cricket, Jadeja insisted having two individuals not afraid to "voice their opinion" at the helm will be a positive for the team.
"He has always been the man who leads the team and he will be the man who leads this Delhi team as well because, whether it be KKR [Kolkata Knight Riders] or the time he led India, he likes to lead from the front," Jadeja said. "I would be sitting on the backseat with a hat on top and, if needed, I'll guide him, but he is the man in charge.
"Whether we win the Ranji Trophy at the end of the season remains to be seen but the only aim of anybody who walks into that dressing room is to win the Ranji Trophy because we are not here to participate, we are here to win. That is what I, my captain and each of us believe and that is why we are going to the ground every morning and trying to do the best we can."
Gaurav Kalra is a senior editor at ESPNcricinfo. @gauravkalra75