Not a long time ago, a terrible curse befell on the Indian Cricket Team. The cursed wizard of Oz, Greg Chappell started scourging the land for young and old wizards, with only one intention, destroying them. More or less he succeeded in his quest of destruction. The best of the hunters were hunted down young and old alike, none were spared. The victims were left in terrible state. The coup de grace was so immaculate that it resulted in a lot of humiliation for some and ended their careers and for some it was eternal oblivion.
One of the wizards forced into oblivion by the wizard of Oz is making a strong case for comeback. Yes, we are speaking about the sweet smiling, left handed swinger minus the much coveted swing that terrorized the batsmen once, Irfan Pathan. He had a dream debut for India which is envied by a lot. His swing earned him a reputation of being as lethal as legendary Akram and his batting performances were compared to Kapil Dev.
Scintillating, yes, that’s what he was at his best. He soon found himself among the wickets and accolades. Who can forget the hat-trick against the arch nemesis, the Men in Green? He has scored 1368 in ODIs at an average of 22 with 83 being his highest score. In Tests, his tally is 1,105 runs at an average of almost 32 with the highest being 102. What more can you ask more from a young all-rounder? Then something bad, really bad happened, Greg Chappell. He was nothing short of a guinea pig in Greg’s lab. He was a bowler who could bat a bit. Chappell tried to make him a batsman who could bowl well, the fast bowling all-rounder that India had been searching for since Kapil retired. Result, he became neither. By the time Chappell was done with him the end product was a complete disaster, a talented but lost and demotivated youngster.
Then there was a comeback, a good one. Irfan showed some sparks of the yesteryears. He led the bowling department in the ICC T20 World Cup with Bhajji but, by then he had lost his rhythm, his bowling style had changed and he had lost the most potent weapon from his armory, his swing. He was as good as a blunt knife. The string of Injuries made sure that he never got a chance to come back after that. The bowler who was touted to carry forward the legacy of the swing bowlers was cut short by a confused coach and injuries. It’s true that we can’t just blame Greg for his failure. It was probably his aspiration to become an all-rounder that subdued the bowler within. My doubt, he had an identity crisis all along.
His recent form in first class cricket has been exemplary. 21 wickets in 5 first class matches make him a force to reckon with. More importantly that in-dipper that got us all excited is back in action and how. He sure deserves a chance to comeback in the national side. All the teams have at least one player who is a genuine all-rounder. South Africa has Kallis and Morkel, Sri Lanka has Kulsekara and Mathews, Kiwis have Vettori and Ryder. It’s true that Ashwin scoring a ton did not help in making his case strong for a comeback but, how far that would last needs to be seen. If someone deserves a comeback that is, Irfan Pathan for me. Though, this time I hope it’s not like Halley’s Comet.