No, it’s not Gautam Gambhir.
Sehwag? Nup, he’s retired.
Ohja? Don’t be silly. The Indian selectors have stamped his papers “never to return”.
The answer you seek is Ravi Jadeja.
Even more correctly, Sir Ravi Jadeja.
The guy is that good that the Queen has already knighted him prior to him doing anything of note in the Test arena.
India have decided that this flawed genius will be the cover for Ravi Ashwin, who enters the South African Test series under an injury cloud.
Or perhaps they will play him along side Ashwin?
Oh, the suspense.
Like Stuart Binny, Jadeja is a polarising character.
Perhaps it is his flair and gravitas that upsets the old timers?
Maybe it was his inconsistent start to the long form of the game.
What about that mop of black curly hair that made the ladies drool?
I want a pair of his sunglasses.
Whatever the case, stop your hating and become a fan.
This 26 year old is a rock star who is about to blow your socks off. He is The Rolling Stones. He is U2.
He is definitely not Justin Bieber.
Cricket yearns for guys like this.
Pakistan have Afridi. Australia have Glenn Maxwell. South Africa have AB de Villiers.
England have….oh never mind.
Jadeja has only played 12 Test matches, but don’t let this number fool you.
His return to Test cricket has been earned. Not via his immense marketing value, his charming smile, the way he slaughters dragons or because of that time he cured cancer.
No, it has been earned through performances in the Ranji Trophy.
The boring way. The correct way.
Jadeja has played three matches so far this season. He has batted twice, both time passing the fifty mark.
But his innocuous spin is off the charts.
4 X 5 fers
2 X 10 fers
25 wickets in 3 games at 8.25
Ignore those figures at your own peril.
Every team needs a match winner. Someone who can turn a battle in the blink of an eye.
Someone who can pick a fight with James Anderson and nearly cause a tour to England to be cancelled half way through.
It doesn’t matter that his current Test bowling average in 30 or his batting average is 21. For this is not where his numbers will finish. They will be much better than this.
If fully fit, Ashwin is still probably ahead of Jadeja. But only because of tenure.
For a selector picking a team to beat the mighty South Africans will know he needs a match winner. A freak. A man who makes things happen.
One who has a better Test average and strike rate against the Proteas than the aforementioned Anderson. Just saying.
Because you can’t afford to carry a player against the world’s best.
Welcome back Sir Jadeja.
This is your time, and we all get to watch.
Reproduced at The Quint