Ravinder Jadeja’s wife Rivaba Jadeja is contesting on a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ticket from Jamnagar North.
While one might think she is just a newbie and needs to carve her niche among her voters, her husband’s status as an ace cricketer has already earned her many loyal supporters. One such person is Jadeja’s childhood coach Mahendrasinh Chauhan.
The New Indian Assistant Editor Anand Singh caught up with Chauhan to get a glimpse of Jadeja’s childhood and how his wife’s foray into politics is being looked at. Excerpts from the interview:
Question: Please tell us about his early days in cricket when he came here for training.
Chauhan:He came at the very young age of eight for admission in this cricket academy with his father. And when the kids come they try to run away but he was more interested in cricket. He was watching the ball and wicket very minutely and watching the players.
He was not nervous after coming into a new life that a small kid of his age faces. And when he used to walk it seemed that he was running. And I had to give him admission because he was the son of my friend (like a relative) and then I gave him admission to the academy and later I realised that it was a good decision.
Anand: When you teach cricket here, you first focus on making the player a good fielder. You trained Jadeja for underarm throw which has paid rich dividends for the Indian cricket team in the field. What do you have to say?
Chauhan: When we used to play cricket we saw how much time was wasted in picking the ball and then throwing it with a high elevation and the same time was saved when the throw was done underarm. And now all foreign coaches and also the national cricket academies train players extensively for an underarm throw. It is an old technique, yet very effective technique.
So Sir @imjadeja has Bihar connection too. His childhood coach Mahendrasinh Chauhan hails from Bihar's Nalanda and is settled in Jamnagar for years. He visits his hometown rarely. He says he is proud of his player. pic.twitter.com/56NhEwH0Og
— Anand Singh (@Anand_Journ) November 22, 2022
Anand: Indian cricket team played well in the recently concluded T20 World Cup. But Jadeja got out of the tournament due to injury and India was knocked out in the semifinals badly at the hands of England by 10 wickets. So did you miss Jadeja in such a big tournament?
Chauhan: I never watch matches on television. Even when Jadeja plays I never watch it on TV but I love to hear the match commentary on the radio and I feel very good when people talk about how Jadeja took 5 wickets and also batted well in the match. And I feel that the entire country and people of India missed Jadeja during the world cup. If he would have played then something else would have happened. I feel that he has been lucky for India. His performance speaks for itself. Whether it is batting, bowling or fielding, he is one of the best players in cricket these days.
Anand: Gujarat assembly polls are round the corner and this time Rivava Jadeja, his wife is contesting from Jamnagar North assembly seat. A politician from a cricketer family – how do you look at it?
Chauhan: Cricket and politics are two different domains. If Ravindra would have said that he is entering politics then I would have advised him not to do so. But as his wife is entering politics, she has all my support. It is a good thing that she is entering politics – a domain that allows you to serve people. Since she decided to associate with the BJP, she must have done so for a noble cause. As she has entered politics we will back her and bless her as Ravindra is our son and his wife is like a daughter to us. So we will support her.
Anand: Even Ravindra Jadeja’s elder brother Nain Jadeja is with Congress and Vivaba is contesting from BJP.
Chauhan: Such things happen in every family but it does not mean anything. And we all are with Ravindra Jadeja’s wife and the entire Jamnagar Cricket Association will support him. He has given recognition to Jamnagar like what Vinoo Mankad and Salim Durani did previously. And now because of him, Jamnagar has got recognition across the globe.
Question: Many children are training here at the cricket academy and about eight girls have been selected for different national-level teams. Do you feel that now more children are coming forward to choose cricket as a career?
Chauhan: Yes definitely. Now children look at cricket as a career option. I have around 400 kids training here in different age groups. The capacity of this academy is to train 100 to 120 players. But now many youths are coming forward. And we can’t say no to anyone as everyone wants to become Ravindra Jadeja. And Jamnagar being a big city many players now want to opt for cricket and we can’t say no to them.
Question: Now many girls are also coming forward to train themselves in cricket.
Chauhan: Yes, now many girls are coming for the same. Now, I have 48 girls, out of them seven are playing in Ranji team, while seven are playing in under 19 from Jamnagar. Neha Chavda and Riddhi would have played for India long ago but it seems that luck is not on her side. Riddhi is captain of Saurashtra women’s cricket team, she is also a good player. And many girls are practising hard and I hope that their hard work pays off.
Question: Does Ravindra Jadeja visit this ground and meet you when he is in Jamnagar?
Chauhan: I never talk to him about cricket. Now he is a celebrity. He hardly gets time. He treats me like a father figure. I usually maintain a lot of distance. When he visits this ground, we get huge crowd. Earlier he used to visit often whenever he came to Jamnagar.