Ever since Irfan Pathan made his debut back in 2003 against the mighty Australians in the tour down under, I have been closely following his game. The lanky 19 years old was touted to fill the void of the great Kapil Dev and for a while, he did too. The chivalry and humility that he possessed when he stepped into the limelight are still intact. At 33, he has new roles awaiting him.
As the IPL season begins, Irfan Pathan talked to us about his new role as a commentator in the IPL, his association with J&K Cricket and the fall out with Baroda Cricket Association.
Q: Tell us about your recent association with J&K Cricket.
I got in touch with the J&K Cricket Association through the CEO, Administrators and Parvez Rasool. Kapil Dev was also present during our first meeting. They (J&K CA) talked about the plan and asked me if I can offer my services. I had a couple of lucrative offers up my hand at that time but I opted to go for an opportunity where I would be able to give back to the game of cricket. So, I grabbed this opportunity to be the mentor. They did offer me captaincy but I didn’t take that. I said that my presence or absence shouldn’t make a difference to the team’s performance and goal. I want to cultivate such a team. I did istakhara before taking this decision and felt at peace.
Q: Recently, you were in J&K where you interacted with the players. How different do you feel the role is going to be here than it was in Baroda?
The kids are excited about cricket and very eager to learn. This is a very young side. Here, they will be looking up to me for every cricket related query of theirs. I received a warm welcome from the team. There are 24 districts in J&K where we have to concentrate on developing cricket infrastructure along with the J&K Cricket team. I am pretty excited about mentoring this young side. I’ll need to put into a lot of hard work. Things take time. I have things planned. Let’s see how it pans out.
Q: Wasim Jaffer’s presence made a lot of difference to Vidarbha’s team. Can we expect the same from you for J&K team?
To be honest, Vidarbha was in a little better position when Wasim bhai joined. He has definitely added a lot to the team. Here, I’ll have to start from the scratch. J&K have won just a handful of matches in the domestic tournaments. It’s a long process and will take time. I’ll aim at setting in the process. Whether I am there or not, the team should make a progress.
Q: What are you seeking, on a personal level, from this association?
I am going to have a bigger role and responsibility. It’s going to be good for me too. Going into the future, that’s what I’ll be doing ahead. I eagerly look forward to begin my stint with J&K cricket.
Q: This IPL season, you are going to be seen in a new role. How is it going to be from the other side of the field?
A lot of people might be thinking that since I am going in the box, I’ll be out of the field. But, no, I am not! To keep the air clear, I am still playing cricket. I am just 33 and I still have a lot of time. Since I didn’t play in the last domestic season, for whatever reasons, I knew IPL wasn’t coming. It’s all about current form. I wasn’t playing so I can’t expect people to know about my form. I have been asked to take up commentary since long now. People said that why can’t you be the first player who’s still playing and also commentates. So this season, I thought to give it a try.
Q: With CSK and RR making their comebacks, which are the teams to look out for this season?
There’s going to be a lot of excitement for these two teams as they are returning after 2years. You can’t zero in on one particular team. That’s going to be tough.
Q: Since Warner’s ouster, how do you think the dynamics are going to change for Sunrisers Hyderabad?
It’s obviously going to have a huge impact. Warner is an impactful player and captain. But, hopefully, the newcomers and veterans will be able to take up the responsibility and up their game. They have players like Shikhar Dhawan and Yusuf Pathan who can step up on big occasions.
Q: Who are your favorites in this IPL?
Being in broadcast, I can’t extend my support to one particular team but I am pretty excited about Royal Challengers Bangalore and Sunrisers Hyderabad.
Q: Would you like to speak about your unceremonious ouster from the Baroda’s team last season?
What I didn’t appreciate was the press conference drama a few days before the game. I was the captain, the mentor and one of the five fittest guys in the team. What could have made them take such a decision a few days before the match baffles me. Though, as a cricketer, the institution of Baroda Cricket Association has given me everything. Just because of few people, I won’t take away credit from what BCA has done for me. People are aware of what has happened and I am satisfied with it. At times, it’s good to get away from the blame game, take a break and make a comeback. I am looking forward to the coming domestic season and I shall get what I deserve.
Q: If you have to bet your life on one current player, who would it be?
Oh, that’s a tough one. Umm... Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni for sure.
Q: Nehra ji made a comeback at the age of 39. Irfan is just 33. How hopeful are you?
About donning the blues, I first need to go out and play a domestic season. That’s what I am aiming for. I’ll get time to work further on my game and fitness. I am looking forward to playing cricket with Irfan Pathan’s full ability and potential. Right now, I am taking things as they come.Published 10 Apr 2018, 10:23 IST