Just noticed that this season's highest run-scorer in the Ranji Trophy Super League is Wasim Jaffer, 32, with 617 from eight innings. Sridharan Sriram, 34 and representing his third state in his 18th season of cricket, is at five in the list. And then, at No 16, but just 120 runs shy of Sriram's 440, is Pankaj Dharmani, 36 and captaining Punjab in his 19th season. A spot below him is Delhi's Mithun Manhas, 31. Connor Williams, 37, is a few places behind Manhas with 291 runs at 48.50. Hemang Badani, 34 and now playing for Haryana, follows with 263 at 43.63 from six innings. Domestic stalwarts Sanjay Bangar and Amol Muzumdar aren't far behind.
Each of these men has been around for a long time; Dharmani would have seen each make his first-class debut and blossom as players. Manhas and Muzumdar aside, each has been called up to the national side. Williams never played an international, but did make it to the Test XI for a match against South Africa which was deemed unofficial as a result of the Mike Denniss row. Dharmani played a solitary ODI in 1996, hardly three years after his Ranji debut; Jaffer got 31 Tests and two ODIs; Sriram eight ODIs; Badani four Tests and 40 ODIs; Bangar was tried for 12 Tests and 15 ODIs.
To see Jaffer still going so strong is a sign of his dedication, ability, experience and perhaps lack of bowling talent. But that would be a disservice to Jaffer's work ethic. His hunger is phenomenal; the Marathi manhoos in him is legendary. He recently said that he could be in the fray for a recall if he kept churning out runs, but we all know that won't happen. The latter, that is. Runs will continue to flow from Jaffer, who now wears a thick beard ala Mohammad Yousuf.
Sriram has gained in years and around the waist, but what he brings to an inexperienced Assam side must be very valuable. Muzumdar has also joined Assam. Lets hope the youngsters around them benefit from the presence of a such domestic veterans, and that Assam as a team progresses up the ranks. Same for Haryana, with Badani a major presence in the middle order. Manhas knows he will never play for India, but still he turns up day in and day out to lead Delhi with dedication. Williams' best days are behind him but the Baroda giant has much to offer his team-mates. Ditto for Bangar, who any domestic veteran will tell is you is one of the most sincere and dedicated players on the circuit.
The day isn't far when some of these names, who I grew up reading about and watching, will hang up their boots and pass on the mantle to the next generation. Hope the journey was worth it.