Jalaj Saxena has been with IPL teams like Mumbai Indians, Royal Challengers Bangalore, and Delhi Daredevils in the past but is yet to play an IPL game.
The player auction for IPL 2021 saw plenty of players go for big bids. Jalaj Saxena, who is yet to debut in IPL despite in the squad for several teams went to Punjab Kings for his base price of Rs 30 lakh.
Jalaj Saxena: It Would Have Been Great If Consistent Performances Took Me To Higher Levels
Jalaj Saxena has hardly been noticed by the selectors that matter the most despite scoring 6334 runs with 14 hundred having an average around 36 with the bat, 347 wickets at an average around 27 with the ball from 123 first-class matches, first for Madhya Pradesh and then for Kerala. Anyone with these numbers will be considered a premium all-rounder.
Well, he technically has been recognized by the BCCI as the best domestic all-rounder in 2014-15, 2015-16, and 2017-18, but the bigger rewards like getting selected to play for India haven’t come. He has hardly been given consistent stints with India A as well. At one stage in his career, Jalaj Saxena was even vocal about his disappointment.
“I have the self-satisfaction of doing well, but I would have had greater satisfaction if performances like these would have taken me to higher levels too. If I had got rewards with the awards, it would have felt better,” Jalaj Saxena told ESPNcricinfo in 2018.
“I still don’t think I’ve got many opportunities.”
He would even tweet his achievements, hoping for the higher powers to notice. In the Vijay Hazare Trophy 2021, he picked up 8 wickets at an economy of just 3.74. In the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, T20 he got 10 wickets from 5 matches at an incredible economy of 6.26. The reward – an IPL contract – was very well deserved.
“I like to update myself every year, I try to keep learning new things,” he tells Cricketnext.
“I’ve been working on the carrom ball for a long. Not just that, there are many variations that I try to keep learning. That’s what I’ve been doing, these are the rewards, that I’m getting selected for IPL franchises again.”
“Honestly, I’m just taking it as a process to become a better player. Results are just an outcome of the process. I want to become a better bowler, a better player. For that, I need to update myself and learn new things.”
“ If you’re fit enough, if you’re performing and willing to learn new stuff, then age is just a number. When I started cricket as a career it was just because I loved it. Still, I love it, that’s the motivation. Every day, every season when I start preparation, I want to add new things and improve. Hopefully, I will play for the country as well.”
Jalaj Saxena, though, is a lot different now at 34 years of age, and much calmer. He hardly worries about ‘results’, doesn’t rue the lack of ‘rewards’. Instead, he’s still charged up as ever, stressing age is just a number. His only focus is on the process. He is still working on carrom balls and googlies, adding to his armoury.
Jalaj Saxena Is Happy And Excited To Be Back In IPL After Going Unsold Last Season
Jalaj Saxena’s transition – from a person wondering about rewards to one who is fully focused on the process – is the most striking difference in his journey over the last three years.
“I’ve been fortunate that I have people around me who always guide me. They’re always there when I felt negativity in my heart. I feel it’s again a process, you learn about that mentality and learn to be positive. This is the phase where I’m very positive and looking forward to new phases of my life.” he explains.
“My brother Jatin Saxena, we always have long chats about life and cricket. He has been a great motivator and a great friend who has always helped me in my cricketing journey.”
Jalaj Saxena is yet to play a game in IPL.
“We all know that IPL is a very good platform for everyone who wants to play for the country. You never know, one good season and you’re there. Very happy and excited, hopefully, I’ll get an opportunity, and hopefully, the Punjab team does well so that every player will get into the limelight. I’m very excited about it.”
“I feel I’m very fortunate to play under Anil Kumble (coach). Anil sir is a legend and if I talk about spin. he’s an institution. There will be so much to learn from him and I’m looking forward to it. Hope I learn many things.”
Jalaj Saxena was unsold last season, but the debut could happen this year considering the lack of Indian all-rounders in the Punjab Kings set up. He is not just looking forward to making his IPL debut but has his eyes on bigger things.
“We lifting the trophy and me contributing. That’s one thing I dream of. It’s a result-oriented thing, but if we can focus on the process the results will come.”
He may not get a game though at least in the initial matches. The presence of Deepak Hooda, Murugan Ashwin, and Ravi Bishnoi may hurt his chances.
PBKS Predicted XI: KL Rahul, Chris Gayle, Mayank Agarwal, Nicholas Pooran, Deepak Hooda, Moises Henriques, Shahrukh Khan/Mandeep Singh/Sarfaraz Khan, Murugan Ashwin, Ravi Bishnoi, Mohammed Shami, Jhye Richardson