Rajasthan Royals, Chennai Super Kings and India; teams that can match up, both in terms of skills and stature, to the ones Ranji represented.
Cricket has shrunk the great divide. Defying lineage, Jadeja has shaved off a few degrees of separation with the first family. By virtue of his long, arduous journey from a rundown government house to an upmarket flat at present and a sprawling under-construction bungalow in the future, Jadeja has geographically moved closer to the palace and socially to the royal tree. He also has the aura of the Jadejas, the ones from the palace. “Bapu, jai mataji.” Jadeja has arrived.
It is this back story that makes one understand Jadeja and the changes on a plot of land, about 25 km from Jamnagar. Three years ago, an eight-acre plot got a new owner and a fence. A sprawling modern bungalow followed, with bright-red “RJ” monograms, in roughly 1,000 points, painted on the sparkling white compound walls. Next to it a swimming pool was dug. All this needed upkeep and security. So a landless farmhand’s family of six was invited to occupy a comfortable corner in the compound. And then a couple of horses trotted in. The spindly Doberman, Rocky, had company and an experienced equine expert, the owner’s country cousin, had a 24-hour job. A young man, who had a deprived childhood, had his Neverland.
Jadeja is keen on a farmhouse interview and arrives in his A4 Audi, a luxury car worth a few lakhs over half-a-crore. The car’s boot has a different monogram from the one on the wall. It reads Ravi, with the tail of the extra-curvy cursive “R” cradling the “AVI” in dwarfed capitals. Jadeja steps out with lips pursed to help his left hand twirl the right wing of that famous moustache. The right hand, meanwhile, acknowledges the “Jai matajis” from the small group of eager retainers. Rocky comes running but it is obvious that he isn’t the blue-eyed pet at the farm. That status is reserved for Ganga and Kesar.
Jadeja’s doting elder sister, Naina, says his brother has brought home rabbits, pigeons, fish and