From an out and out swing bowler to an all-rounder, to a No.3 batsman, to a slower balls and cutters specialist, again back to being a swing bowler – Irfan Pathan’s cricketing career swung from one perception to another but perhaps none bigger than the one which said coach Greg Chappell ruined his career.
A year after announcing his retirement from all forms of cricket, Pathan said it is wrong to blame the former India coach for spoiling his career. “It’s not true that Greg Chappell spoiled my career. Since he was not from India, it is easier to make him a punching,” Pathan told Raunak Kapoor on his channel Beyond The Field.
Chappell’s tenure as India head coach between 2005 and 2007 was filled with controversies. The biggest one without a doubt was the removal of Sourav Ganguly as India captain and the ugly fall out that followed between the left-hander and Chappell because of a leaked email.
Pathan, however, busted the myth and said it was legendary Sachin Tendulkar’s idea and had nothing to with his dip in form with the ball.
“I had said this after I had announced my retirement as well. Those who talk about Greg Chappell spoiling my career, by sending me as an all-rounder at No. 3 and all these things… Actually, it was Sachin paaji’s idea. He advised Rahul Dravid to send me at No. 3. He said ‘he (Irfan) has the power to hit sixes, can take on the new ball and can play the fast bowlers well too.”
“It was tried for the first time in the series against Sri Lanka when Muralitharan was at his peak, and the idea was to attack him as well. [Dilhara] Fernando back then had started the concept of the split-finger slower ball. Batsmen didn’t understand that too well, so the belief was if I could pull it off, it could work in our favour, especially since it was the first match of the series,” Pathan said.
Later, in a rapid-fire round, Pathan was asked to describe Chappell. In his reply, he said – “Misunderstood character”.
Pathan, who became the second Indian after Harbhajan Singh to claimed a Test hat-trick in 2006, retired after playing 29 Tests, 120 ODIs, and 24 T20Is, in which he picked up 100, 173, 28 wickets respectively besides scoring 1105, 1544 and 172 runs.