Sheldon Jackson’s stellar performances for reigning Ranji champions Saurashtra could not attract the national selectors’ attention but having made the tough call of switching to Puducherry, he is hoping that big runs for the “much smaller” team would fetch him more eyeballs.
Jackson amassed more than 800 runs in the previous two seasons and played a pivotal role in Saurashtra’s first Ranji Trophy triumph in March. Having represented Saurashtra across age groups over an 18-year period, Jackson said it was time to explore new avenues as a professional cricketer.
“This is the first step for me to start playing professionally. If I do well, the money will follow. This year I have not looked at too much money. If I do well, I am sure many doors will open up,” Jackson told PTI when asked if money was the main reason for the move.
Jackson will be Puducherry’s outstation player for the upcoming season alongside Paras Dogra and Pankaj Singh. “We were in talks for the past six months. It was a tough call but you can’t add emotion to your profession and it is not as if you are leaving home forever,” he said.
“You are going for a certain period. I am certainly emotional leaving my friends behind and want to thank the Shah family (Niranjan Shah and son Jaydev Shah) for giving me the opportunity to play for Saurashtra. Even now, I am leaving on very good terms.”
Having last played for India A in 2016, Jackson last year questioned national selectors for not including any Saurashtra player in the India A side and Duleep Trophy despite the team’s consistent run in the Ranji Trophy, including four finals in the last eight seasons. Jackson said he doesn’t think about the selectors’ mindset anymore and focusses solely on performing well.
“A lot of people have been asking me that (I have made it tougher for myself by moving to a smaller team). I believe, if I score for a small team like Puducherry, it will get more noticed than my performances for Saurashtra where others are also scoring big runs like me consistently,” the batsman said.
“I am looking at it that way. And if the team qualifies for the knock-outs, you (as a senior player) are bound to more credit. Also, I don’t think about the selectors’ point of view anymore because I tried to for a period of time but nothing happened.”
When asked if he thinks he can play at the higher level such as India A, Jackson said: “Why not? After all, it is a first-class side. If I score 1000 runs in the season, you never know. I have already had two 800 runs season. If you have to get picked, you will get picked either way. They see the X factor,” he said.
“Before a decade ago, Saurashtra was considered small. It has become big in the last 10 years and is still a much smaller centre compared to Mumbai and Delhi. Still our two players (Cheteshwar Pujara and Ravindra Jadeja) are playing for India. Similarly, Puducherry could too become big in the next five years.”
(with PTI inputs)