Irfan Pathan: An underrated, underappreciated talent deserved a better end to his career
Indian all-rounder Irfan Pathan announced his retirement from all forms of the game on Saturday, bringing the curtain down on an illustrious career which included a World Twenty20 triumph in South Africa. He was also part of India's historic win at Perth in 2008 post the controversial Monkeygate scandal, where his all-round performances ensured India's success.
The 35-year-old left-arm seamer played 29 Tests, 120 ODIs and 24 T20Is for India, picking a total of 301 international wickets. These are significant numbers which very often get overlooked. What sticks in the mind of critics or followers of Indian cricket over the past decade is the complete fall of a talented player. Numerous injuries led to his downfall post which, unfortunately, he couldn't recover and regain his old swing or glory.
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Life has to move on and now Pathan realises that he is not actively involved as a professional cricketer and with no franchise expected to buy him at the IPL, he decided to move on. It was a decision that didn't raise too many eyebrows as he has been off the radar for the past few years. The Baroda all-rounder has gracefully decided to step into the next stage of his career.
“I have been fortunate to share the dressing room with greats of the game like (Sourav) Ganguly, (Rahul) Dravid and (VVS) Laxman. I am calling time on my career,” Pathan announced on broadcaster Star Sports.
“I would like to thank my family for providing much-needed support. I would like to thank my fans. They have always hoped for my comeback. Their support has kept me going.”
Pathan’s biggest contribution to Indian cricket came in the game’s shortest format as he was named man-of-the-match in the World T20 final against Pakistan in 2007. He took three crucial wickets as India lifted the trophy in Johannesburg.
He is one of three Indian bowlers to have claimed a Test hat-trick and the first in the world to claim it in the first over of the match. Also, his toe crushers at Adelaide to get rid of greats like Matthew Hayden and Adam Gilchrist is still fresh in the minds of his fans.
Pathan last played for India during the World T20 in 2012, but featured regularly in the domestic circuit. “I will keep contributing to Indian cricket, but it is always better if someone else takes my place in domestic cricket,” Pathan added.
It is rather sad to see cricketers who we all admired fading away and not being able to maintain their legacy. This applies specifically to Irfan Pathan and Yuvraj Singh. They deserved a better goodbye, for the significant contributions they have made to Indian cricket across formats. Yes, they haven't done much in recent years but people shouldn't forget their best days either. Both of these players were instrumental in getting India glittering trophies - ICC World T20 and the World Cup in 2011, something that will go down in history books.
Irfan Pathan revolutionised Indian swing bowling along with the likes of Zaheer Khan, Lakshmipathy Balaji and Ashish Nehra. The current crop of world-class fast bowlers are an outcome of the performances and the foundations laid by such bowlers, which was nurtured even more post the onset of IPL.
It is definitely worth lauding this current set-up of world class bowlers that India possess but it's indeed sad that the likes of Irfan Pathan, Zaheer Khan and L Balaji didnt get their due. They played an immensely important role in shaping up India's growth as a team that could dream to win overseas.
Go well Irfan bhai! You were and are a fine talent. You inspired a generation of youngsters to bowl and hope you have a great career off the field. Thanks for your contributions and mostly for the fond memories your bowling gave us.
Modified 07 Jan 2020, 15:52 IST