Former Indian cricketer Irfan Pathan said that he could have been the best all-rounder produced by the country in One-Day Internationals but rued the fact his career at the top level was short-lived.
Pathan, who had announced retirement from all forms of cricket in January this year, had featured in 29 Tests (1105 runs and 100 wickets), 120 ODIs (1544 runs and 173 wickets) and 24 T20 Internationals (172 runs and 28 wickets), claiming a total of 301 international wickets combined. He finished his Test career with exactly 100 wickets.
“In terms of achievement, there could have been a lot more. I really believe that in one-day internationals, I could have been the best all-rounder that India ever produced, I could have been,” Pathan said in an interview with Rediff.com.
“That didn’t happen because I didn’t play as much cricket as I could have because my last game for India was at the age of 27. I see people playing till the age of 35 or 37 like England fast bowler [James] Anderson. Obviously the conditions in England are different. I think if you play till 35, things would have been better, but that’s gone, it’s done and dusted.”
The Baroda cricketer made his debut as a 19-year-old, in Adelaide against Australia in December 2003. The left-arm seamer’s bowling was like a breath of fresh air when he made his India debut. He never had express pace but his natural ability to swing the ball into the right-handers got him instant success. He last played for India in October 2012 in a T20I against South Africa. He was with the Jammu and Kashmir team and his final appearance came in the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 tournament in February 2019.
Among his most notable achievements are the hat-trick in the first over of a Test match (against Pakistan in Karachi, 2006) and bagged the Player of the Match award in the 2007 World T20 final. He also played a big role in India winning a Test match against Australia on a tough Perth wicket in 2008, which offered steep bounce.
Paying tribute to Pathan, VVS Laxman had tweeted: “Despite grappling with his fair share of challenges, @IrfanPathan retained his fierce passion for the sport. Along the way, he embraced the role of an inspirational mentor-cum-coach when still an active first-class player, willingly sharing his wisdom and experience.”
Pathan also spoke about the fact that while he started off as a new-ball bowler, his role changed to that off a defensive operator bowling first change.
“When you are bowling first change, when you are a defensive bowler according to your captain and coach, you have to play the role of containing the runs. You have to make sure that you don’t give away too many runs. So if your role becomes different, then your numbers also become different as well. I actually feel that people from the team should have spoken about it,” Pathan said.
“They should have said that, ‘Yes Irfan used to take wickets, but now we have given him a different role. We have given him the role of first change bowler and someone who can bat at No. 7 or No. 8, which is very much required in one-day cricket right now.’ Now, if an all-rounder goes for around six runs per over and takes one wicket per match, you are happy with that, but you were not happy with Irfan Pathan who did the same thing. Why is that?,” he added.
(With PTI inputs)