He always had the Jamnagar pedigree, though not the affluence. How Ravindra Jadeja, wild child of Indian cricket, doter of horses and a brother answerable to his sister, aspires to become modern-day royalty
The bluest of Jadejas, Jamnagar’s ruling Rajput dynasty, who is Jam Sahib to local residents, still lives in a palace and owns a 45-acre nature reserve, which once housed about 10,000 royal pets, in the city’s centre. Miles away from the trunk of that famous family tree, but distantly connected by a thin off-shoot of a modest sub-branch, are several pleb-Jadejas. Born in a one-room government flat to a nurse and a security guard, “our Jadeja” was one such commoner.
Like the rest of India, aristocracy died long ago in this Gujarat region but an ingrained reverence for the stately second name is alive. So like all Jadejas, Ravindra Jadeja too was called Bapu — derived from baap (father), it is a term of endearment coined for benevolent kings or mass leaders in Saurashtra — and greeted with a “Jai mataji”. “Hello” or “kem cho” are for the masses. Salutations by way of hailing Jamnagar’s revered mother goddess are reserved for the “warrior class”.
It is a different world, this caste-divided, deeply religious land which is littered with history. Time here imitates the slow crawl of life on wide, empty roads snaking through imposing heritage buildings.
Uninfluenced by the lethargy around him, Jadeja took the fast lane to fame. He would go on to master cricket, a game that has a long history in this region, to be a Team India star, man of the tournament at the Champions Trophy that India won in June this year, World No.1 ODI bowler, known television face — and thus modern-day royalty. Ravindrasinh Anirudhsinh Jadeja is the newest name on Jamnagar’s cricketing honours board, one that is topped by a prince whose graceful leg glance made the British go weak in their knees.
Maharaj Ranjitsinhji Jadeja, Ranji to the world and great-granduncle to the present-day Jam Sahib, represented Cambridge, Sussex and England. In a different century, another Jadeja from Jamnagar is a regular with Saurashtra, 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