Wasim Jaffer will forever remain an enigma in Indian cricket. With 19410 runs in his first-class career that spanned 24 years, Jaffer racked up 57 centuries and 91 fifties, winning the Ranji Trophy title once in 1996 and another in 2019 with Vidarbha. He made his Test debut in 2000 against South Africa but the Proteas pacers got the better of him in a forgettable series. Despite initial promise, Jaffer's career never really took off on the international stage and we are left wondering what exactly went south despite his domestic exploits and numbers. 

Here's a glance at what changed over the years in cricket - from Jaffer's debut year in 1996 to 2020 when he finally drew curtains to an illustrious career from domestic level.

The greats weren't greats

  • Rahul Dravid did not have a single Test century when Jaffer started his first-class career. The veteran Indian no.3 batsman went on to rack up 36 Test hundreds, retired from the format in 2012, served as coach of the under-19 side and is now a director at the NCA as Jaffer hangs up his boots.
  • The same holds true for Sourav Ganguly in ODIs. The Bengal southpaw had made his ODI debut in 1992 and returned to the setup in 1996 following a lengthy four-year absence. He was yet to hit an ODI ton when Jaffer made his first-class debut. 24 years later, Ganguly has 22 ODI hundreds, led the national side with aplomb for several years and is now the president of the BCCI.
  • Sachin Tendulkar had just 19 international centuries when Jaffer kickstarted his journey. He ended his career in 2013 with 100 international hundreds. Jaffer, meanwhile, made 57 at domestic level in seven more years.

The domestic scene was vastly different too

  • Vidarbha's current skipper, Faiz Fazal wouldn't make his first-class debut until seven years later when Jaffer started playing first-class cricket. Fazal was Jaffer's final skipper in the Ranji Trophy and has 10 hundreds in first-class cricket.
  • Vidarbha's coach, Chandrakant Pandit, had finished his international career only four years before Jaffer started his own. He was still playing first-class and List A cricket and went on to play till four years after Jaffer's debut for Mumbai.

So was the world scene

  • The Champions Trophy was not yet started when Jaffer made his first-class debut. It took two further years for the ICC to bring up the ICC Knockouts in 1998, a tournament that later changed to the ICC Champions Trophy in 2000.
  • Australia had only one World Cup win when Jaffer began playing for Mumbai. By the time he hangs up his boots, the Aussies have five World titles.
  • T20 wasn't even a concept at the time of his debut and took nine further years to make an entry in international cricket. Right now, there are separate T20 World Cups for men and women and franchise leagues all over the world. Jaffer, in fact, represented Royal Challengers Bangalore in the debut year of Indian Premier League.

Feature image courtesy: AFP / Indranil Mukherjee