It took one Australian tour in 2003-04 to make a curly-haired teenager a household name. Once he began swinging the ball both ways, comparisons with Wasim Akram followed. A few impressive knocks later, he was destined to be the next Kapil Dev. The fall for Irfan Pathan though, has been as quick as his climb was.
Having lost his swing and a considerable amount of pace, Pathan is no longer the blue-eyed boy of the selection committee. Despite scoring 397 runs at an average of 49.62 and scalping 22 wickets in the 2009-10 Ranji season, followed by a five-wicket haul in the Duleep Trophy final, Pathan didn’t make the cut for the Zimbabwean tour or the India A side — touring England — as a pool of fresh faces was preferred by the selectors.
Working on errors
The disappointment is clear, but Pathan does his best to conceal it. “I really don’t know what to say. I was hopeful. Every cricketer thinks of where he is going wrong and tries to work on his errors. I’m playing well but need to do better. I’m still hoping to make a comeback,” Pathan says, while speaking to The Indian Express.
While cricket pundits attempt to deconstruct where the downfall began, Pathan isn’t sure himself. Could it have been because of the drop in pace? “But I have never been a 140-plus bowler,” he says.
“I don’t know what people are expecting from me. Do they want to see me to bowl at 140-plus and take no wickets? Or do they want to see me swing my way to wickets and give away fewer runs?” he asks, adding, “I was a bowler who could take wickets and perform whenever the team required.”
The long season has finally come to an end after the IPL, and Pathan has planned his next three months in advance.
“At the moment I’m working on my body, hitting the gym. These three months will be crucial as I will work on my pace. It all depends on how I maintain my body,” he says.
The 25-year-old has more plans in place but is reluctant to reveal them, though he is tugging at the leash to return into the senior side as it’s been a year since he was last part of the Indian team. Pathan is aware of his statistics this season, and rattles them off like a student giving his oral exams.
“It all depends on how my next season goes, I’m ready to do well again. Ready for more hard work, ready to learn everyday, ready to come back.”