Back in the mix, Irfan raring to go again

Back in the mix, Irfan raring to go again

Interview : 'I am getting big, crucial wickets now'

Back in the mix, Irfan raring to go again
 During the last two seasons Irfan Pathan, hardly played any cricket because of a host of injuries. Missing out on the action has been tough for him. But a few distractors questioning his commitment have cut open an even bigger wound in his heart.

Now charting his comeback through Ranji Trophy games for Baroda, Pathan opened up about the time away from cricket, fitness, and eagerness to return to the national squad.

On the disappointment of missing matches, and criticism about his commitment: In the last couple of seasons, I had heard some people saying Irfan Pathan didn’t play Ranji Trophy. You can check with Sanath Kumar (then Baroda coach) on the true nature of the events.

When I played those three games, I wasn’t fully fit. I had a crack on my rib. So, Sanath requested me to play as a batsman, as he felt my presence would be good for the team. Lot of people didn’t see that.

Sometimes, critics won’t see what a cricketer goes through when they get injured. No one wants to be injured. If getting injured is a crime, then jails in the country will be full of bowlers. Bowling is hard work.

The last two games I played for India I was man of the match, so to miss out on all that hurts. But I have enough support, so I went through that tough period. I need to thank Ashish Kaushik, my personal physio, for helping me come back.

On the progress he is making as a bowler: I read somewhere that Irfan has changed his action. You will never see a bowler retain his action throughout his career. There will be some changes as you go on playing. In the first spell against Karnataka, I had beaten the bat a lot of times. I am happy with the way the ball is coming out of my hand.

I have always maintained that when you are coming back after a lay-off, the more you bowl the better you get. I am getting the crucial, big wickets. For example, in this match I got Manish Pandey with a bouncer. So, I am not far away from getting bulk of wickets, not far away from the way Irfan Pathan can bowl.

On his fitness: I always give the example of Ryan Harris. How many times has he got injured? Pat Cummins got injured several times at such a young age. It’s sportsman’s life. But here, we stamp a player as injury prone. What is this injury prone? The human body is made to run straight. But bowling and batting has a lot twists and turns in terms of using your body. So you will get injured because you are doing an unnatural thing to the body.

I have bowled around 40 overs in this game, and in the last two matches I bowled around 50 overs. So I have bowled some 90 overs in the last three matches. I have batted for a good period too. I reckon that’s a good statement of my fitness.

On his readiness to play international cricket: Right now, I am not too far. But I need to play more first-class games, and as I said I would become better as I play more matches. It is all about slipping into rhythm. When your team needs a wicket in the last session or to give that extra bit on a slow pitch…I am getting there.

On playing his 100th first-class game: Playing for such a long time in first-class cricket is quite satisfying. I have always maintained that if you play first-class cricket – the number of overs you bowl…your bowling improves.

It also helps your body to get stronger. When you play T20 cricket or one-day cricket, sometimes you just need to do the right thing – like bowling a yorker or bowl a defensive line. But when you play in all three formats, then you improve as a bowler.

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