Irfan Pathan's last international game came in 2012 and was never considered for selection after that. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)
Irfan Pathan had made great strides when he started out in the cricketing world. His 9/16 in an Under-19 game against Bangladesh fast-tracked him into the Indian side. His swing and pace impressed many people and he was hailed as the next big thing. However, as the years wore on, Pathan lost his pace and swing. The period also coincided with Greg Chappell at the helm of the Indian cricket team. Many people believed that Pathan's downfall was primarily due to Greg Chappell. However, in an interaction with PTI, Pathan said blaming Chappell is a cover-up and he said he never lost his ability to swing the ball.
"All these discussions? People talking about Greg Chappell, they are just covering up. (The discussion that) Irfan was not interested, it was coming from somewhere. All the aura they made that Irfan lost his swing, people need to understand, that you are not going to get the same kind of swing that you get in 10 overs.. I was still getting the swing," Pathan said.
Pathan 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). Many former players feel he could have played for much longer. Form and injury issues prevented him from realising his true potential. However, Pathan bitterly recounted an incident in which he helped his side win a game against Sri Lanka but was dropped immediately after that. "People talk about my performance, but my job was different. I was given job to contain because I was bowling first change. I had been told this is your job. I remember getting dropped after winning the game in Sri Lanka in 2008, who gets dropped after winning the game for the country without any reason? In 2009-2010, I had a back injury, and I was struggling to go to Mumbai, Ahmedabad, in Bangalore to check my back. I used to go through the scan, which is not good for your body, but I used to go through that and have different kinds of scans to actually know what is exactly happening with my back. Unfortunately we didn't have those kind of machines at that time which (would) make clear that why I am getting back pain. It eventually turned out to be five fractures, disc prolapse and a crack. I was struggling for two years with back injury and that back injury kept going (getting) worse, but I didn't stop playing Ranji trophy," Pathan said.
He also praised his former captains Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid and Anil Kumble. "When I came into the Indian team, Ganguly knew I could do well with the new ball in Australia. He eventually gave me the confidence. I think that was the start. When Dravid became the captain, he utilised my potential one step ahead. (He) used me higher in the batting order (when) besides bowling with the new ball. Anil bhai was the kind of senior I was lucky to have alongside Sachin paaji (Tendulkar), who always gave me the right advice. His leadership was outstanding. He is matured in handling tough situations and he showed that during the Monkeygate episode," Pathan said.