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The Hindu
The Hindu
Amol Karhadkar

Why is age a selection criteria, asks Sheldon Jackson

Having tallied almost 2,000 runs in the last three Ranji Trophy seasons, Sheldon Jackson was hoping to be picked for India-A. But the Saurashtra batter, who was last picked for Duleep Trophy in 2015-16 and India-A a season earlier, was not even picked in the West Zone squad for the Duleep Trophy.

When Jackson, 35, tried to ask around, he was told he was too old to be picked for the zonal side. The stylish batter and articulate speaker opened up to The Hindu.

On his disappointment

If I am thinking of playing for the country and I am not even picked for the Duleep Trophy because someone feels I am too old, how am I going to reach over there? I was expecting to get picked for India-A. There’s nothing wrong in expecting it, and you don’t pick me for Duleep Trophy is inexplicable. As a professional, you always strive to upgrade yourself to a higher level. It’s demoralising when it’s stalled for reasons beyond my control.

On the reason cited to him for exclusion

Why is age even a criteria to get picked? If it is, they are taking away the dreams of at least 25 to 30% of domestic cricketers who are in the mid-30s. I am not being the voice for them but I am speaking for myself. You cannot stop someone from dreaming of playing at a higher level. I have been advocating this for quite a long time now.

Now, when I am 35, I am being tagged as old but I have been hearing this since I was 31. Now they have picked more than six who are older than 30, so how is it justified then? Back then, I was told no one above 30 was picked. But when a performer is picked for the country in his mid-30s based on his performance, why isn’t it adopted for domestic cricket? I think it’s just become a ploy to not pick someone. When you don’t really have any other reason, you cite his age.

On the perception about him in the cricket fraternity

Many times I have heard that he is a frustrated cricketer who is venting out his angst. I am a very happy cricketer and a happy person who has a loving family to go back to. I enjoy my life and I feel asking questions for which we don’t get answers is justified as a professional. That doesn’t have anything to do with my space of mind.

On his tendency to speak up regularly

We hail from a team where there are no big stars pushing for our cause on social media or elsewhere. There aren’t too many articles written about us in the press. We are all by ourselves. And we are performing cricketers. In the last decade, we have played five finals (including four Ranji Trophy). If age is a criterian, we are beating sides with younger players.

On the way forward

Every cricketer aspires to play for the country and I am one of them. The day I stop believing it, I will lose my motivation level. I have nothing to prove to anyone. I have broken many records. Having played 75 (79) First Class matches, I am averaging above 50. Because I aspire to play for the country, I try to get better at my skills and my fitness and beyond that. I am a professional and will continue doing what I do best. To score runs and win games for Saurashtra.

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