Left-arm seamer Jaydev Unadkat has revealed that off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin texted him during the 2020-21 Australian tour and empathized with him over not being picked in the Indian team.
India battled major injury woes during their tour of Australia and went into the final Test at the Gabba with an extremely inexperienced pace line-up comprising Mohammed Siraj, Shardul Thakur and T Natarajan.
Unadkat was the leading wicket-taker in the 2019–20 Ranji Trophy, with 67 wickets in 10 games but was ignored by the Indian selectors. The 30-year-old played one Test for the country back in 2010. His last match for India was a T20I in 2018.
In an interview with ESPNcricinfo, Unadkat recalled how Ashwin shared words of encouragement for him from Australia. He said:
“On January 2, last year Ashwin bhai [R Ashwin] texted me during the last Australia tour, where nearly every member of the squad, including the reserve bowlers, got a chance to play the four-Test series [because of injuries]. He said: ‘I feel for you and the way you have performed in the last [Ranji] season. But be right where you are in terms of your game and your mindset. Your time will come’.”
The left-arm seamer’s last match for India was an eventful one – the 2018 Nidahas Trophy final in which Dinesh Karthik hit that iconic last-ball six. Unadkat did a good job with figures of 2 for 33 as the Men in Blue restricted Bangladesh to 166 for 8.
“They do not want me as a net bowler because I am a senior player” – Jaydev Unadkat
Despite being an experienced campaigner at the domestic level, Unadkat laments the lack of support from coaches and selectors. On the contrary, he reveals being told he was not wanted as a net bowler because he is a senior player.
Sharing the incident, the Saurashtra cricketer said:
“Last year I was part of a group of players shortlisted by the BCCI to attend a fitness camp at the NCA. That kind of thing obviously motivates you. And when you go there and coaches or selectors have a word with you, saying they are a looking at you or whatever, that could be very important for us players on the fringes. That has not happened to me until now.”
The pacer continued:
“There have been times where I was told that they do not want me as a net bowler because I am a senior player and they want to give exposure to young bowlers as net bowlers. It has been especially tough when I see India travelling overseas with a large contingent.”
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The 30-year-old is now looking forward to the upcoming season of the Ranji Trophy. Rescheduled due to COVID-19, India’s premier domestic competition will be held in two phases due to the IPL. The first phase, in February-March, will see the league matches being held. The knockout games will take place in June.