Thursday, 17 July 2008

The curious case of Irfan Pathan

According to a recent survey, around 75,000 children have been identified as missing across India in the last one year. Alas, you never get data about cricketers who take the obscurity-prominence-oblivion route.

Let’s admit, Irfan Pathan has become an anachronism, though that was not supposed to be the case with an otherwise immensely likeable chap with a disarming smile. An obituary to his career seems premature but I’m afraid he would go down in cricket history as a mere case study -- how not to tamper with a talent.

Indeed, Irfan can’t be faulted if he looks back and feels he got stuck somewhere between his own potentials and Greg Chappell’s aspirations. In his weaker moments he would probably admit that the aspiring all-rounder in him subdued the bowler within. Suddenly, belting looked so glamorous and bowling such a chore. No wonder, pace dipped and swing deserted, rendering him lesser a bowler.

To make it worse, too many mentors compounded the crisis. Irfan simply lost his way in the haze of advices that came from left, right and centre. Suddenly, everyone had something or the other to offer to him. No wonder, Irfan’s slower became a tautology and at some point of time, Jhulan Goswami was bowling faster than him. The same bowler who could make the ball talk, now only releases it and implores the almighty for the rest.

He probably got up one morning to discover in his horror that he has been robbed of his endowment.

My sneaking suspicion is Irfan had an identity crisis all along. He began as Zaheer protégé, was the next Wasim Akram at his zenith and then rumormongers exclaimed India has just got the new Kapil Dev. The truth is, he probably never had an identity of his own and that made him easy prey to failure.

Again, this was not to be the case.

The other day, Rafael Nadal had an asteroid named after him. I won’t be surprised if someone proposes to name a meteor after Irfan.

Image: BBC

34 comments:

Wasim said...

He has lost his pace by a yard or two since he started his career,he still swings the ball but is too slow, the flat wickets being prepared all over the world are also not helping him, he will fade away from the scene if he doesn't increase his speed.

Neno Cricket said...

you probably correct but this is fault of ours. We make cricketer up then our god.

Some more examples...
L Balaji
A Nehra
A Agarkar
Bangar

Som said...

Wasim, unless he swings it enough and at a decent pace, of not rocket pace, he would be as good as Boycott's mom. And it's quite difficult to see him increasing pace. You made a valid point about dead track which neither offer the kick or the lateral movement.

Som said...

Neno, in cases of Balaji, Nehra and Agarkar, I think they are just too injury-prone to have a long career. Bangar, on his part, is a bits and pieces player who could come and send down a couple of overs to allow your frontline pacers catch their breath. Beyond that, he never was a threat as such with the ball.

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Neno Cricket said...

hey,

do you known many a times even Afridi bowls faster then our Irfan

Wasim said...

Why Nehra is not being given a chance again, he looked to be quite impressive in IPL.

vmminerva said...

Identity crisis indeed. He seems to be losing it with bat and ball.

Is it a coincidence that a lot of the Greg-Chapell-era youngsters seem kind of lost: Raina, Kaif, Yuvraj, Pathan. Can't think of more at the moment.

Homer said...

Isnt Irfan nursing a shoulder niggle at the moment?

And why are we taking any pace bowler at all to Sri Lanka - in August?

Cheers

Som said...

Wasim, Nehra is perennially injured and sulking. He does not find a place in the Delhi Ranji trophy team. God knows why Mumbai Indians roped him in and Nehra looked altogether a different bowler! Even his teammates like Sehwag-Gambhir had no clue batting against him.

Som said...

VM, that's a strange coincidence you pointed out. Only Raina seems to have found his mojo back.

Som said...

Homer, valid point. I guess it's a protocol to include at least a couple of pacers in the squad. It's like being politically correct.

godof86 said...

First time here, good blog, and keep up the good work!

And I agree. You know, discussing the future of Indian cricket, one cannot but ignore the what-if of Irfan becoming at least 80% of what he had promised to be... Which will still make his an all-time great, mind you.

Look, none of the other talents mentioned here among the comments are/were really the one-for-the-ages kind of players... and Irfan really is.

Unfortunately, poor Mohammed Asif, of similar class and ilk, is heading the same way, albeit for altogether different reasons.

Som said...

Hail God. Welcome and keep coming too!
Indeed Irfan could not attain 80 percent of what he promised -- or we read him wrong!

CricketGod said...

i think Irfan lost his aggression. He was surely a world class bowler when he came but lost whatever you has now.

Som said...

Crickegod, no wonder he is flashing his spotless white teeth at the drop of the hat! For sure, he is oozing more charm than aggression.

John said...

Irfan won us the Perth Test.

Straight Point said...

i agree with you all that you have written about pathan...

i would like to add though...

that ppl like pathan need more care and nurture and should not be dumped...if for once i feel he is guilty of coming prematurely after his injury in recent ODIs...

someone should sit with him face to face...take him to corner... face...with warm, gentle but firm reminder about his priorities...

i am sure it wont take much time for him to get back in reckoning...if we give him the feeling of being wanted (still)...

Wasim said...

Som,

But now when he was fit and the selectors saw him bowling like Wasim Akram in IPL why they didn' selected him for Asia cup or Kitply.He was the most impressive Indian bowler in IPL.
I don't know if he is going to Sri lanka or not.

Naked Cricket said...

india's first choice t20 bowler is a non-starter in tests, that's the game divide. also, not too long ago, the phlegmatic pathan, lost his shirt, bat and cool. Did he get run out that day? Sure run outta steam.

Sad for now, but he'll be back. Poster boys, as Yuvraj has demonstrated, make excellent 12th men, and ideal company in the 14! Must be the companies that back em. Anyway, who plays tests nowadays. Pathan, Yuvraj can have all the nite outs, and Raina will be there too. Too bad, Rohit Sharma.

Som said...

SP, I too believe you probably can't fault him. It was all circumstances. But I agree with Cricketgod, he completely has lost his aggression. He's content chipping in with a wicket or two and is no more the spearhead.

Som said...

Wasim, Nehra is not going anyehere, let alone Sri Lanka. He's too fragile and you always know he won't last an entire tournament. Of course he bowled so well in IPL but the selectors were not ready to look back and they probably wanted to invest in future. Hence you saw MS Gony getting a chance.

Som said...

NC, Rohit seems to have gone one step further than his ODI captain. He plays T20 like that's the sole purpose of his being. Rest can go to hell. He simply loves his T20 and nightouts.

Som said...

John, welcome to Doosra and keep coming...

UTP said...

so true...I think that is what is missing...the Mentors. Either its not mentoring or too much mentoring...the players have to be smart also...

There was so much potential to happen and the world of cricket could have seen another leftie who could make the ball talk as you right put...but...not to be...

fate plays its part as well...

Som said...

UTP, welcome. I'm not a great believer in fate but I do believe that it takes more than just effort to succeed. At times, you may still finish short of what you should have attained, At times, you are victims of the circumstances. Fate or circumstances, Irfan's is a sad story indeed.

Wasim said...

Som

Too bad because a lot of lefties aspire to become Wasim Akram but not many succeed.
There were a few matches in IPL he was just bowling like Akram.
To me he looked a much better bowler than RP and Pathan.

scorpicity said...

Good one som and your observation on him seeking advice from too many mentors is the single biggest reason for him to loose it. Maybe he should be sent out to the wild and made to eat raw meat to regain his touch. He is right now a confused bowler...now watch ishanth sharma go that way.

Som said...

Wasim, to be honest, you can't really bank on Nehra. Few could swing it like him at his pomp and he looked at his best in IPL. That was partly because snubbed by even his Ranji team, he had a point to prove.

Som said...

Scorpicty, I share your fear about Ishant. He has not changed his length a bit since returning from Australia. I tend to feel that our bowlers are a bigger force on Austrailan tracks but they simply lack the variation and intelligence to survivce in the sub-continent.

Q said...

He's still a good enough bowler in non-subcontinental pitches. He will still do good in Australia, England and anywhere outside India, PaK, and SL...

Som said...

Q, I too expect him doing well in England and Australia. In the sub-continent, he's a pathetic sight when you see Dhoni gathering it at ankle length.

Anonymous said...

Not all of the Chappell era are lost! Raina has come back impressively this year! I for one have been extremely pleased to see his strong perfomances first in the CB series in Australia then against Pakistan in the kitply cup, Asia cup and now he's started off pretty solidly vs england. Irfan yes, seems lost. He needs to focus on his bowling, his batting seems something that pretty much takes care of itself, similar to someone like stuart broad. He needs to get his pace upto the 130s and rediscover his zip, swing and most importantly confidence and sense of identity- in the sense that he is a bowler who can contribute well with the bat. not anything less and not anything more, for now at least.

Anonymous said...

and naked cricket - guys like Raina, Yuvraj and after some more grooming Sharma are probably going to become the backbone of the Indian ODI and test teams in the future. Yuvraj and Raina particularly are rare talents. Raina seems to have discovered what he needs to be a success at international cricket and Yuvraj- lets face it; has never been given a decent run in tests. Yes he could have done more in the limited opportunities he got but he has never played more than 4 tests in a row which is also due to the unbelievably strong middle order we have seen every since his debut in 2000. I firmly believe that with someone of his talent, we have just got to be patient in the longer format and give him time to find his feat. A run of atleast 10 tests would be ideal. Take the example of someone like Symmo- for so long he was restricted only to ODIs and he too was not able to establish a spot in tests due to similar reasons as Yuvraj - limited opportunities and a couple of low scores. However, after becoming a regular since the Ashes of 2006-7, he has adapted remarkably. Lets hope Yuvi is able to cement Ganguly's spot as his own- hopefully his mindset will be stronger as he knows now he isn't just a temporary replacement and has a chance to really make his own spot in the Indian test team. Guys like Yuvraj are match-winners. India should nurture him, encourage him, support him and back him all the way and I'm hoping Dhoni will me smart enough to do this. Players like him are always important to have in a side.