M A I N   N E W S

Pathan sent back home
Ashish Shukla

This is the first instance in Indian cricket of a player being sent back
for poor form

Kingsmead (Durban), December 25
Irfan Pathan’s turbulent career received a further setback when it was decided that the young Baroda paceman would be sent back home to rediscover his forgotten craft. “We, the team management, chairman of selectors and Irfan himself have decided that it is in his best interest that he goes to India and plays the next two Ranji Trophy matches on January 2 and 10,” captain Rahul Dravid said while insisting that the youngster was important to India’s plans in the near and long-term future Pathan has picked 91 Test wickets from 25 matches at an average of 30.79 and is only the second Indian bowler to pick up a hat-trick but his recent slide has been too dramatic to be ignored any longer.

He was not picked for the first Test at the Wanderers, missed three Tests in the West Indies and even in the preceding one-day series on the present tour, he was not picked in all the games.

Pathan’s problems became apparent when he was slammed for 74 runs in his 11 overs by an average local side, Kwazulu-Natal XI, over the weekend. That probably was the catalyst though Dravid was quick to deny it. “He is not getting enough cricket on this tour as we had hoped. He is really an important member leading to the World Cup. We discussed this with Pathan, coach staff and chairman of selectors and we felt it was in Irfan’s best interest that he plays domestic matches.

“He is too important for us, we need to get him right.” Dravid said that the team had enough back-up.

“We’ve enough back up and with back-to-back matches, we feel we could last the series.” The sending back of Pathan midway through the tour is bound to put other non-performers on notice because the message is loud and clear - there would be no place for those consistently failing to live to their promise.

In fact, BCCI Secretary Niranjan Shah had said before the start of the Test series that the Board could call back players from South Africa if they failed to perform.

Dravid also drew upon the example of Stephen Harmison of England to explain Pathan’s dilemma. “He is a young kid and is not the only one who has gone through such worries in international cricket. Only recently a bowler as good as Harmison was being criticised for struggling badly. It can happen when you are young.

“I remember just before the home series against Pakistan, Pathan was struggling. He went to county cricket, played a lot of games and bowled a lot of overs and he was okay.”



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