New Delhi: Out of favor off-spinner Harbhajan Singh has said that he has another 5-6 years of cricket left in him and hopes to be back in the Indian team for the forthcoming trip to Australia.
Talking to News 24 editor-in-chief Anurradha Prasad on her weekly show ‘Aamne Samne’, Harbhajan said “I do have another 5-6 years of cricket in me, ‘picture abhi baaki hai’. I think I can still contribute to the side for some time. I don’t know anything other than cricket and people know me for this only. It’s my passion”.
Harbhajan also said it’s good for the team that new spinners are coming forward and performing well for the side. He said “competition is good for the side, I am not afraid of competition. If I was afraid of competition, I wouldn’t have played international cricket for 13 years. If there is no competition, the level of the game will not rise. To take the team forward, we must have more options. If these guys can play for long time and develop, it will be good for the team. I welcome the inclusion of new guys in the team”.
On the issue of selection for the upcoming tour of Australia, Harbhajan said, “my job is to play cricket and perform and not worry about selection, it’s the selectors’ job. On being asked, what is it that brings out his best against Australia, he said, “I enjoy playing against Australia, they are still a very good side and tough competitors on the field. They are very aggressive and we need to be aggressive to counter them or they will start dominating you. I still remember the famous series in 2001 where I took 32 wickets in 3 tests and the Australian media gave me the name ‘turbanator’. “I go to the field to play cricket and not listen to abuses or sledging, if they say something, I will give it back”.
Harbhajan recalled the ‘Monkey gate’ which rattled the entire cricket community on India’s last tour down under saying, “something happened in that match where we might have had to bat again. I was batting with Sachin and made 66 and they didn’t like the fact that a tail ender was scoring runs and not getting out so they said something. I had to reply. I can’t tell you on TV what they said and what I said but it just happened, they provoked me”.
Harbhajan also tried to clear the air about his relationship with Andrew Symonds saying, “ I share a very healthy relationship with Symonds, we have played together at Mumbai Indians. He told me he was not upset with me but was annoyed with his team management who did not support him and blew the matter out of proportion”.
On the issue of another big controversy of his career relating to him slapping S Sreesanth during IPL-1, Harbhan said, “we were losing 3 matches on the trot and Sreesanth said something and I reacted wrongly. It was wrong on my part to do that and I apologized. I was ashamed and regretted afterwards. It was a very bad time for me as I was banned. I take full responsibility for what happened back then”. Now I have calmed down a lot, I was very aggressive in the beginning and used to react spontaneously. I am a very emotional and expressive person by nature. I have a lot of energy inside me and I have realized how to use this energy best. Everyone learns from mistakes and I have also done that”.
On being asked about his antics on the field, Harbhajan said, “it’s spontaneous. Whether I take 1 wicket or 10, they are all for the country and that makes me happy. I express my happiness on the field as I am a very expressive person by nature”.
Harbhajan also recalled the tough time the senior players of the team had during Greg Chappell’s tenure as coach saying, “it was one of the worst phases of Indian cricket. He had divided the team completely. It is wrong to say that he got the youngsters their due, he only divided the team by creating insecurity in the team. I was insecure, Sachin was insecure. I was told if I took 5 wickets, only then will I play the next match. It was not a happy feeling in the team and if you compare it with Kirsten’s tenure, the results will say everything. Now the team is united and happy”. On being asked about Suresh Raina’s comment that “Chappell brought a lot of youngsters in the team and made Dhoni captain”, Harbhajan said, “Youngsters always get chances to play in the team, Chappell cant take credit for this. He did not make Dhoni the captain”.
Harbhajan said that Dhoni is the best ever Indian captain saying, “he has a cool head and is very calculative. He is intelligent and knowledgeable. He reads a lot about everything, not just cricket. He reads on everything from a bullet to the engine of an air plane”. Harbhajan told that the rumors of a rift between him and Dhoni over an ad campaign were not true. He said, “It was an issue between me and the company that created that ad featuring Dhoni. We discussed the issue and Dhoni told me that he did not know the story line of the ad or he would have not done it”.
Bhajji also said he missed Anil Kumble on the field saying, “Anil Bhai used to create so much pressure from the other end that it became easy for me to claim wickets from the other. I miss him but consult him whenever I need some help”.
Bhajji said he was praying for Sachin to complete his 100th centure at his home ground in Mumbai saying, “I am praying he does it in Mumbai. There is no one better than him. I really hope he does it in Mumbai, he deserves it at his home ground”.
Aamne-Samne with Harbhajan Singh will be aired on News24 Sunday (November 26) at 8.30 pm