Jay Bista‘s domestic career has been nothing short of a roller-coaster ride. After being tipped as the next big thing coming out of Mumbai Cricket, the swashbuckling right-hander was dropped from the side multiple times quite inexplicably.
Having shifted to Uttarakhand from Mumbai, Jay Bista received an opportunity to work under former Indian batsman Wasim Jaffer. But it wasn’t for long as Jaffer recently stepped down as Uttarkhand coach in a controversial manner.
Outstanding Innings by Jay Bista 141 off 119 Balls with 18 fours & 3 sixes against Meghalaya. Uttarakhand Team won by 6 wickets #VijayHazareTrophy
— Rajesh Khilare (@Cricrajeshpk) February 21, 2021
Fresh off a sensational hundred in the ongoing Vijay Hazare Trophy, Jay Bista, in an exclusive interview with Sportskeeda, threw light on the unfair treatment he received at Mumbai, his take on the Wasim Jaffer saga, and much more.
Q: What inspired you to take up the sport professionally? Who was your mentor?
Jay Bista: Although my goal was to play for India, I didn’t know there were different age-group cricket, Ranji Trophy and stuff. I used to play for Hindu Gymkhana. I was called by the Payyade Sports Club to play a game for them in an Under-12 tournament.
I scored a hundred over there and got a call from a lot of places. I got a call from Shardashram school to join them. You can say my real journey started from there itself.
My mentor has always been Vinod Raghavan Sir. He has already coached Mumbai in Under-16, Under-19 and Under-23 levels. He is still my mentor and is always going to be my coach.
Q: You made your first-class debut in November 2015. Was there a moment in your debut season when you realized, “wait a minute, I do belong to this level”?
Jay Bista: I scored runs the Under-23 games and was called by the Mumbai Ranji Trophy team. I got a chance against the Railways, and in the second innings, I was adjudged out when I was not. I was very dejected.
The next game we played was against MP (Madhya Pradesh), and the wicket was a rank-turner. We had a target of 280 runs on a pitch that was turning from the first ball itself. It was my second game and my fourth innings. I thought this was my last chance to show what I’ve got.
Luckily, I got some 80 odd runs and we won the game. It was nearly impossible to win as it was difficult to score on that wicket.
That very season, I picked up a five-wicket haul in the quarter-finals. But I was dropped in the semi-finals. It was quite a hard feeling, but I went back and scored a lot of runs for the Under-23 side. I received my call up to the Irani Trophy that season as we had won the Ranji Trophy.
I got a hundred in that game. These two moments were my best moments in my debut year.
Q: Was there favoritism and politics in Mumbai Cricket, and were they unfair to you? What were your emotions when you finally decided to move on from Mumbai and file an NOC?
Jay Bista: I don’t know about politics or favoritism. I will speak from my point of view. I had scored runs and had got dropped. This kept on happening a lot of times.
I scored a hundred and was dropped the next game. Again I scored some 90 odd runs in a one-day game, was dropped in the next game. That was the only reason I filed an NOC.
Q: You were reportedly unhappy when a certain Under-19 player replaced you despite you being in good form. Any thoughts on that?
Jay Bista: In the 2019-20 Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, I was the highest run-scorer for Mumbai in the first six games. Then a person who has not played cricket for the last seven months comes in.
The joke was that I was told in the team huddle that I was going to be play the game, and suddenly when the captain was going for the toss, I was told that I was not playing. That was the reason I was unhappy.
The Under-19 thing that I said was about another player. When you play one-day cricket and you have to make way for a senior Indian player, you completely understand that. But when an Under-19 player comes in and takes my place, then that is not acceptable. I will not accept that any day, whether he scores runs or not.
After the first game, the coach told me that some BCCI official had told him that the Under-19 player is the future of the Indian team, so we need to play him. That sends a message that I am not going to play for India. This is what I was being told.
Q: How has playing for Uttarakhand improved your game, especially working under a stalwart like Wasim Jaffer?
Jay Bista: It is always a pleasure to play with Wasim Jaffer or under him. It helped me a lot. We spoke about my batting during practice. But the most important thing is that it is amazing to see him around because he has achieved a lot of milestones. Being with him and talking to him is itself a big honor for me.
Q: Wasim Jaffer had mentioned in a tweet that he had recommended you to be the captain. But in the end, Iqbal Abdullah was made the skipper. Did that create a rift between you and Iqbal?
Jay Bista: Not at all. See, if you are a teammate, you are a friend first and then a family member because we stay together. There wasn’t any rift. I knew it and Wasim Jaffer had told me while he was signing me that I might be the captain of Uttarakhand. He lived upto his words and I am very thankful to him.
1. I recommended Jay Bista for captaincy not Iqbal but CAU officials favoured Iqbal.
2. I did not invite Maulavis
3. I resigned cos bias of selectors-secretary for non-deserving players
4. Team used to say a chant of Sikh community, I suggested we can say “Go Uttarakhand” #Facts https://t.co/8vZSisrDDl
— Wasim Jaffer (@WasimJaffer14) February 10, 2021
But Iqbal has already played a lot of cricket and I would say it wasn’t a bad decision to make him the captain. He has played more cricket than me and knows more about the game. I have no issues with Iqbal being the captain.
Q: Addressing the elephant in the room, given the fact that Wasim Jaffer resigned just days before the start of the Vijay Hazare Trophy, how big an impact was it on your team? What are your views on Jaffer being accused of communal bias, supporting Muslim players and calling a Maulavi in the dressing room?
Jay Bista: If you read his tweets, you know what kind of a human Wasim Jaffer is. He will never do such communal bias because I personally feel he is one of the best human beings I have ever come across. Secondly, I never saw a Maulavi on the ground or in the dressing room.
We always go through periods when things are not going right for us. But we need to leave behind those periods when we are entering into a tournament. Right now, we are focusing on the game and the gelling process has been quite good.
Q: At 25, you are possibly at the prime of your batting prowess. Were there any calls made to you for IPL trials? Secondly, despite scoring runs regularly each year, is it frustrating not to have bagged an IPL contract yet?
Jay Bista: Honestly speaking, when i was 19, 20, 21, I had been called by a lot of franchises for trials and stuff. I have been to Mumbai Indians, Rajasthan Royals, Delhi Capitals and Rising Pune Supergiant. I have been to a lot of sides and have scored a lot of runs in the trials.
But the trials weren’t helping me. So this year and the year before, I was not even going to fill out the IPL form. It was only because of my parents and coach, who forced me to fill it. I wasn’t going to because every year you expect something and get dejected.
For the past three years in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, I have averaged over 50 and have a strike-rate of over 140. I don’t know where I am going wrong.
Q: With the Ranji Trophy not happening this season, how badly is it going to affect players like you, who do not have an IPL contract?
Jay Bista: It is certainly going to affect us because money is very important for our day-to-day life. I want to put a light on the fact that the state association should take care of the players. Allowances are not being paid on time. They should atleast give the players the allowances on time.
The Uttarakhand cricket team haven’t been paid the allowances and the match fees of the last season. We haven’t been paid the allowances for the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy this year and the Vijay Hazare has already started.
They should take care of this because we don’t have an IPL or a BCCI contract. They should look after it and something should be done about this. This is something that I am concerned about right now.
Q: After starting the campaign in style with a brilliant century, what are your future goals? Do you see yourself playing for Mumbai again somewhere down the line?
Jay Bista: I don’t think I am going to play for Mumbai again. Playing for Mumbai for the past two to three years has been really hard on me. I wouldn’t want to go into that zone again.
Right now I am in a good zone. If I can help my team go ahead and play for an Elite division, and if I score, there is a possibility that I might get a chance. This is what the real goal is.