Paying rich tributes to the retired allrounder Irfan Pathan, former India head coach Greg Chappell has called him a ‘courageous’ and ‘selfless’ player.
Irfan announced his retirement from professional cricket on Saturday after bursting into the scene as a 19-year-old left-arm swing bowler, making an impressive debut against Australia on the 2003-04 tour. He tasted early success with his ability to swing and bat, took a Test hat-trick in 2006 and became WT20 winner in 2008.
In all he played 29 Tests, 120 ODIs and 24 T20Is taking a combined 301 wickets in them.
“Irfan was happy to play whatever role the team required. He was both courageous and selfless,” Chappell told The Times of India. “Irfan proved that he was a very capable all-rounder. Apart from what he did in limited overs cricket, he very nearly scored a Test century (93 vs Sri Lanka).”
Irfan’s international career coincided with Chappell’s troubled stint as India coach beginning 2005 till the 2007 ICC World Cup in West Indies. There’s a popular perception that Irfan’s career was ‘ruined’ by Chappell as he wanted him to become an allrounder resulting in loss of swing.
However, Irfan has dismissed the discussions as ‘cover up’ insisting he never lost his swing.
“His (Irfan’s) swing bowling was very good, with the highlight for me being his hat trick in the first over of a Test match against Pakistan in Karachi,” Chappell, a former Australia captain and selector said.
Explaining his decision, Irfan had said, “I knew I was not going to make an international comeback after 2016. I was the highest wicket-taker and the best allrounder that season (2015-16) in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy but I wasn’t picked. The selectors were not very happy with my bowling, I was told. Around 2016, I knew my time was up.”