Time on sidelines helped me mature: Ishant
Kolkata, Dec 5: Not many 24-year-old sportsmen could claim to have experienced the full circle of the life the way Ishant Sharma can. Since making his Test debut as a skinny, towering and nippy fast bowler, Ishant has seen it all. He’s tested and gotten the better of one of the best batsmen of this generation in his own backyard. He has spent many a frustrating moment on the sidelines due to injuries and poor form. And very recently, he had to go under the knife to heal his dodgy ankle.
Ishant has had to grow up rather quickly in the last five years, and he has. His sincerity and the sense of responsibility oozed in his decision to let go of the riches of the IPL in 2012 and opt for an ankle surgery instead, in order to regain full fitness for the following Test series. Not many men his age have the discipline and focus to resist that kind of temptation.
Further proof of his maturity came to the fore during his chat with bcci.tv during India’s third Test against England, in Kolkata. Playing his first international match since the Adelaide Test in January 2012, Ishant shared how he utilised the time out to learn more about his body and his game.
He also paid tribute to that recently retired great batsman whom he troubled during India’s 2008 tour of Australia. Ishant revealed that his spell to Ricky Ponting at Perth still motivates him to become a better bowler.
This is your first match for India in 10 months. Nervous? Exited?
The nerves are really big since the moment I came to know that I was playing this Test. I have been out of international cricket for a long time; I played my last match in January. So, obviously there is a bit of nervousness as well as excitement.
What kept you going during that tough period away from cricket?
I cannot say that the time I spent out was a difficult one for me because having that ankle surgery was my decision and I backed myself to get through it. On the positive side, I got to spend quality time with my family and friends. More importantly, I got the time to think about my bowling and what I can add into my game. It depends on how to take your time out of cricket. I took it positively.
How did the break help you and what changes do you see in yourself now?
Now I’m really strong on my body. When I was playing with the injured ankle, the whole weight and strain of my body was on the ankle. Now that the ankle is back to full fitness, I feel a lot stronger. Also, I am now more relaxed than earlier. When you’re young, you get excited and carried away when the wickets are falling. Now I know how to take care of myself and how to behave when the wickets are coming or not coming. Now I understand that when you have plans for a batsman, you just need to go and execute them. You have to be confident about your game plan and not get carried away with either success or failure.
Do you think you’ve grown up far too quickly in the last five years?
It’s good to have such ups and downs early in life so that you learn quickly how to deal with the good times and bad. I have realised that it’s all about self confidence and how you feel about yourself. You don’t have to think what people say about you. You know how good you are and you try to keep improving. That’s what counts in the end.
What has your experience been with Joe Dawes [India’s new bowling coach] thus far?
I share a very good relationship with him now. We talk a lot about my bowling and how we can develop it. He taught me how to bowl the out-swinger during the Test series against New Zealand. It has been coming off really nicely and I bowled it a lot during the domestic games as well.
To reduce the injuries have you ever contemplated cutting down on your pace?
I will stick to what I do best. Bounce and pace are my strength and I will continue to concentrate on the same.
Lastly, Ricky Ponting has retired from Tests. You have some happy memories bowling to him, don’t you?
He was a class act, no doubt about that. I still have the footage of spell I bowled to him during the 2008 Test series in Australia on my ipad. Whenever self-doubt creeps in or when I’m low, I watch those lovely spells I bowled to him and regain my confidence. To remember that I did so well against such a legend motivates me and pushes me to go further.