It is the batsman's ultimate dream. Getting a triple hundred in a Test match is a rare feat. It has been notched up only 26 times in 2064 Tests and even though the frequency has become greater in the last decade and as many as four cricketers have scored in excess of 300 twice it is still an admirable feat combining skill, endurance and concentration.
Whatever the state of the pitch and the opposition or the state of the match a triple hundred will always remain a remarkable achievement.
In first class cricket as only to be expected this feat is less rare though it will always be a talked about one. To get two triple hundreds during a first class career is rare and to notch up three such scores is outstanding. Ravindra Jadeja in becoming the first Indian to register three triple hundreds re-wrote history and is now in exalted company.
First he went past Vijay Hazare, Raman Lamba, VVS Laxman, Wasim Jaffer and Virender Sehwag as the Indians who have scored two triple hundreds. Second he is now bracketed with WG Grace, Graeme Hick, Brian Lara and Mike Hussey who have all notched up three triple hundreds.
Just ahead of them are Wally Hammond and Bill Ponsford who have four such scores. And needless to say Don Bradman is well ahead of all of them with six scores in excess of 300.
An interesting statistic puts Jadeja's feat in proper perspective. He has notched up three triple hundreds in 42 matches and in six seasons of first class cricket. The closest is Lara who played 261 matches while Hussey is just behind with 265. Hick played 526 matches while Grace figured in 870 first class games. Jadeja also has age on his side for he turns 24 on Thursday. Incidentally Bradman was a month short of his 22nd birthday when he scored his third score in excess of 300, the famous 334 against England at Leeds.
Coming back to Indians, Hazare was the first to achieve the feat when he scored an unbeaten 316 in the Ranji Trophy in 1939-40 for Maharashtra against Baroda and then got 309 for Rest against Hindus in the Pentangular four years later. It was not until half a century later that the feat was duplicated.
Raman Lamba first got 320 in a Duleep trophy match in 1987-88 for North zone against West Zone. Seven years later he scored 312 in a Ranji Trophy game for Delhi against Himachal Pradesh. VVS Laxman was the first to get two triple hundreds in the Ranji Trophy with an unbeaten 301 in 1997-98 for Hyderabad against Bihar. Two years later he hammered 353 for Hyderabad against Karnataka. This incidentally is the fifth highest score in the Ranji Trophy.
Laxman was followed by Jaffer who in the national competition first got an unbeaten 314 for Bombay against Saurashtra in 1996-97. Twelve years later he amassed 301 for Mumbai against Saurashtra. Incidentally the first score was notched up in only his second first class match. Sehwag as is all too well known made both his big scores in Test cricket but it is worth mentioning that a first class triple hundred has eluded the likes of Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar whose highest scores are 270 and 248 not out respectively.
It was only last month that Jadeja made an unbeaten 303 for Saurashtra against Gujarat. Last season he got 314 for Saurashtra against Orissa. And now with his unbeaten 320 for Saurashtra against Railways he joins the select group. The interesting point is that but for Jadeja the other seven who have made three or more scores in excess of 300 have all played Test cricket with varying degrees of success.
For that matter even the five Indians with two triple hundreds each are Test cricketers. Jadeja has the label of a limited overs cricketer. He has played 58 ODIs and 12 T-20 internationals with moderate success. It was this utility player's image that saw him being purchased for two million dollars (approximately Rs 10 crores) by Chennai Super Kings in the IPL auction this year. It was an eye rubbing figure and there was much debate as to whether Jadeja was the right cricketer to command such a mind boggling sum.
So will the huge scores fast track Jadeja into the Test team? He has a commendable first class record averaging 50. The astonishing aspect of his career is that he has seven three figures knocks and three of them are triple hundreds. Of course he can also be more than handy with his left arm spinners as the first class and international stats indicate.
Rewarding outstanding form in domestic cricket is one way of picking a deserving candidate for higher honours. There is still a lot of cricket ahead during a protracted season and on the evidence thus far it will be difficult for Sandip Patil and his co-selectors to ignore Jadeja's claims for a place in the Test squad.
The No 6 slot has yet to be adequately filled and Jadeja can always be counted upon to play more than a supporting role to the spin duo of Ravichandran Ashwin and Pragyan Ojha or even replace one of them should the need arise.