Powering through disappointments - The Sheldon Jackson way

Powering through disappointments – The Sheldon Jackson way

The disappointment of being ignored by the national selectors hasn’t been the only one through the course of his 16-year senior cricketing career.

Sheldon Jackson
Sheldon Jackson. (Photo Source: Twitter)

It mustn’t have been easy for the Saurashtra team when they took the field for their first game in this season’s Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy (SMAT). The psychological and emotional impact of the untimely and shocking demise of their teammate Avi Barot, top-scorer last time in the tournament within the team and well-liked by all, must have been severe.

Then there was the fact that the group in which they were slotted wasn’t an easy one by any means- they were pitted against former SMAT champions Delhi and Uttar Pradesh, while other teams in the group such as Hyderabad and Chandigarh boasted of formidable squads too. At this juncture, the team, if at all they were to qualify for the next round of the tournament for the first time in their history, would require players that would stand up and be counted in decisive moments.

That is exactly where Sheldon Jackson stepped in, whose contribution to the team’s entry into the pre-quarterfinals of the SMAT has been pivotal. In the final game for both teams, an all-or-nothing scenario with the winner going through and loser crashing out, Saurashtra were struggling at 15-2 when Jackson walked in to bat against a Delhi attack spearheaded by Navdeep Saini. Come the end of the innings, he was unbeaten on 79 off a mere 47 deliveries, helping his team to a score of 166.

Delhi ultimately fell short by 14 runs and Saurashtra went through. This was incidentally his third back-to-back fifty in the tournament, and what’s interesting to note is that all his runs (he is amongst the top ten run-getters in the tournament at this point), have come at a time when the team really needed someone to step up, like against Delhi.

The performances haven’t arrived all of a sudden- Jackson’s star has been steadily on the rise in recent times. Last year in SMAT, playing for Pondicherry, he scored a memorable unbeaten hundred against Andhra, to script the highest ever chase in the tournament’s history. He is one of the only two batters to have scored 200+ runs in last as well as this time’s SMAT.

Moreover, he has been performing consistently in the Ranji Trophy, country’s premier longer-format competition, for years on end. Having amassed 800+ runs in each of the last two seasons of the competition (the second of which helped Saurashtra win the trophy for the first time in their history), he is the only active cricketer to have scored 750+ runs in a season four times now, a feat achieved only by three others in the history of the competition.  Incidentally, he happens to be the only one in the list of four who is yet to play for the country. [1]

The disappointment of being ignored by the national selectors hasn’t been the only one through the course of his 16-year senior cricketing career. The Bhavnagar-born wicketkeeping-batter, it seems, has dealt with them at every juncture of his cricketing journey, only to come out stronger each time.

Sheldon Jackson
Sheldon Jackson. (Photo Source: Instagram)

He didn’t get a game in the Ranji Trophy for the first five seasons and when he did get an opportunity, he took it with both hands and thanks to his attacking approach, there arrived opportunities, albeit limited ones, in the Indian Premier League (IPL) as well as for the India A team over the course of the next few years.

However, come 2020, on the wrong side of 30 now with the weight of runs in the domestic scene unable to fetch recognition in the IPL auction as well as for the Indian team, he shifted base to Pondicherry and his fine form in the SMAT resulted in Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) picking him in the mini IPL auction. While there should have been at least an opportunity in the IPL given his form coming into the tournament as well as in training, he seems to have brushed aside this disappointment as well, coming back to post even better scores than previous times on his return to Saurashtra colors.

Jackson seems to have everything going for him at this point- form, performances against quality attacks, consistency of performances, it’s hard to imagine a cricketing box he doesn’t tick. Thus, when his name had missed out yet again from the latest squads announced for the Indian T20 team/A team, it wasn’t taken kindly.  Harbhajan Singh, teammate at KKR, wrote an angry retort on Twitter, questioning the selection committee’s decision to ignore Jackson’s name.

Sheldon Jackson
Sheldon Jackson. (Photo Source: Instagram)

While the selectors do have multiple wicketkeepers to choose from currently, it cannot be ignored that Jackson’s body of work across the years also deserves to get its due. More so, honoring a consistent player in the domestic circuit like him would also go a long way in reestablishing the sanctity and importance of the domestic tournaments in the face of the IPL, performing where is considered by many players now a days as a ticket to the Indian team across formats.

As for the player, it could well be surmised that the latest round of disappointment, just like the ones before, would be taken calmly in the stride, which wouldn’t possibly be the best news for Karnataka, whom Saurashtra face in their pre-quarterfinal game on November 16th.


Sources:

[1] Cricket Archive Statistics. (2021). Last accessed 11th November.