Changed action has helped: Irfan
Sydney, Feb 24: Determined to resurrect his flagging international career, Irfan Pathan put in some hard yards in the nets and in the gym during his time out of the Indian team. He made adjustments in his action and strengthened his body. Now, he’s in Australia, playing in the CB Series. He’s taken six wickets from three games so far at 25.5 and waged a lone, unsuccessful battle with a fighting 47 as India went down against Sri Lanka in Brisbane.
Ahead of India’s must win match against Australia on Sunday, Irfan spoke to the media about his time away from international cricket and the way forward.
Excerpts from his press-conference:
On the current tour of Australia
By God’s grace, it has been good so far. When I came here, what I wanted to do was create a circle around myself where I would be happy, irrespective of whether I play or not play, do well or not. I’ve realised what is important for me in life and I’m trying to stick to my priorities. It’s worked so far.
On his three tours Down Under
On all three tours, the main difference has been my hairstyle. As far as playing is concerned, I have enjoyed playing in Australia. This is a special place as I made my debut here and a lot of good things have happened to me here. All tours were good but the last one [in 2008] was special as we won the CB Series. Very few visiting teams have done that. Being a part of that team was good, as was winning the Perth Test. Considering this is my comeback, even this tour has been good so far.
On the changes he has brought about in his action
When I came in 2003, I had a natural action in which I used to twist. It’s different when you are 19 [years old] than when you are 27. My action went wrong because of the twist I had. I kept going more round-arm and side-on. And when you do that you are not going to be confident of hitting the target. That’s what hurt me because I couldn’t bowl in the right areas. I then went to TA Sekar sir and worked with him on my action. It took me 4-5 months to change it and feel they way I am feeling now. It’s a long and slow process. When I started to work with him in 2007, I began with just walking for a week. It took a month just to get a feel of it and another 4-5 months to incorporate the change in the action. Now, since my arm is coming out a lot straighter, I am getting the line and length right. I am feeling it is coming out naturally. I am not thinking about the action during the match. If I do that, I won’t be able to concentrate on what I need to bowl, what the batsman is doing. Now, I am concentrating only on the areas I need to bowl at.
On how the new action has helped him
With this action I am able to find the areas a bit more consistently. Working with Eric Simons has helped me a lot as well. Getting help and doing the basics right is helping me bowl not only the yorkers but also the different variations. I am trying to get better and I’ll continue to do so. Sometimes, the results come, sometimes they don’t. There is a definite plan to work in a certain way. It comes with experience and you need the help of the right people at the right time, which I have been lucky to get.
On his bowling strength
I have realised what my strength is. Rather than being a fast bowler, I need to be a good bowler. If you take the example of [Nuwan] Kulasekara, he was the best bowler in the last game against us and his average speed was 125-126 kmph. Not every bowler is going to bowl fast, that is why there are 11 members in the team – they are all different. Acknowledging my limitation and working with it will help me get better and take me forward, not trying something I am not capable of.
On whether playing domestic cricket helped him
Big time! Playing the first few matches in the Ranji Trophy gave me a lot of confidence. I enjoyed playing for Baroda this year as we had a really good coach, Mr. Sanath Kumar. He handled the team well and his input was important. The most important thing for me was to play matches. I didn’t mind missing practices, but I didn’t want to miss the matches. I went to Chandigarh to play some tournament and from there on I started to feel better. Playing in the Ranji Trophy and taking wickets there was a confidence booster.
On his role in the Indian team
I think I am a bowler who can bat. But at the same time if you look at me in the nets, I always make sure I give equal importance to both bowling and batting. When I am bowling, I make sure I bowl length balls in the beginning and try to finish by bowling variations to practise for the death overs. When it comes to batting, I pad up and wait for my turn and when I finish batting in the nets against regular bowlers, I try to get some extra throw-downs from the coaches.
Even in the match, when I bowl I am a bowler and when I am batting, I try to think as a batsman. In the last match, I wanted to stay till the end but unfortunately the result didn’t go our way.
The best thing for me would be to take wickets. Picking wickets regularly helps my batting and vice-a-versa. When I look at myself, I feel its 60-40 (per cent) – 60 bowler and 40 batsman. But when I bat, I like to think as a batsman.
On his batting position
I want to be ready to bat at any position, as I have batted at all positions. What is important is what the team management and captain think. I want to let things come to me rather than thinking too much about things. It’s better to be relaxed and let things come. Sometimes you bowl good balls and don’t get wickets and sometimes you get wickets off bad balls. I try not to think too much ahead or ponder about the past. Good things will happen. Like in last 2 games, I was not supposed to play but I played.
In the last game, I got a hint that they would send me during the batting powerplay. I am ready to bat wherever the team requires me to. In terms of bowling as well, I am willing to bowl whenever they want me to, with the new ball or the old ball. As long as I am playing, I am happy.
On being placed below R Ashwin in the batting-order
You have to be realistic. What you have done in the past is immaterial. You have to look at the current scenario. Ashwin has batted really well in Australia and he also has a Test hundred to boot. You want to do well, want to get higher but have to be realistic too.
On the team environment
The whole group wants only one thing – to win next two matches. That’s what we’ve all come here to do. Sometimes, we have an optional practice, but most of the times the guys practice hard because we want to do well. Even today everyone worked hard in the nets. We all want to win and there isn’t any different opinion on that.
The other day, eight or nine of us went for dinner. I have been hearing things [about the rift within the team], but there’s nothing like that and things are pretty good. It’s a matter of winning big games. Once we start winning the big games, these rumours are going to vanish in thin air.