Hoping next 20 years of my life are just as eventful, says Ashish Nehra

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Hoping next 20 years of my life are just as eventful, says Ashish Nehra

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SportsCafe Desk


Ahead of his final match, Ashish Nehra has talked about his cricket journey, starting in Delhi in the early 1990s, which, 20 years down the line, led to a total of 163 international games. Moreover, he hopes that the next 20 years of his life are as lively as the ones he lived on the cricket field.

During a free-wheeling chat at his academy in Noida, Ashish Nehra unveiled many instances of his initial days as well as talked about his presence on the international circuit for 20 years. 

"If you can, then sprint. If not, then run. Can't run? Then jog. Won't jog? Then at least walk! Can't walk? Then crawl but just keep on moving," Ashish Nehra told PTI prior to his final competitive match against New Zealand on November 1.

Nehra has amassed a total of 163 international caps across all three formats in 20 years, but, keeping aside the statistics, Nehra would have been able to do more had he not gone under knife 12 times.

"Trust me, I have had an eventful 20 years. I am not a very emotional person. The next 20 years is what I am looking forward to. Hopefully, it will be as eventful as it has been since I started playing for Delhi in 1997," he added, 

"It's been a great journey. Maybe one regret. If I could change anything in these 20 years, that afternoon in Johannesburg during the 2003 World Cup final. But nothing else as it's all about destiny."

Further, he walked everyone through his early days and his journey that started at Delhi's famous Sonnet Club in the early 1990s as well as his Ranji Trophy memories during the conversation.

"During my first Ranji Trophy game at Kotla, Delhi team had late Raman Lamba, Ajay Sharma, Atul Wassan and Robin Singh junior. Raman bhaiyaand Ajay bhaiya, I have grown up bowling to them at Sonnet nets. Difficult to forget Raman Lamba. Dada player thaa (cricketing lingo for dominating batsman)," he recalled.

"And Ajay Sharma, well I can tell you about his cricket. With no disrespect to all the current top spinners in our country — Ajay bhaiyawould have murdered them even on rank turners. He was that good at the domestic level. 

"I remember bowling one-change in my debut Ranji game as Robin Junior and Wassan (his last first-class match) were bowling with new ball. I got Ajay Jadeja for a duck in both innings. Another man is Ajay Jadeja. I have huge respect for his cricketing acumen. For me, Ajay Jadeja and Mahendra Singh Dhoni are the two shrewdest cricketing brains I have ever interacted with."

Nehra had a quiet resurrection period under John Wright but under Greg Chappell, he had to go through a chaotic phase. He then had a second coming under Gary Kirsten and then finally thrived under Ravi Shastri.

"I didn't play much under Greg Chappell save two series in 2005 (in Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe). Mujhe pahle series se hi maloom thaa yeh biryani, khichdi bannewalihain Greg ke under (I knew biryani would turn into Khichdi under Greg),” he explained.

"That's where Gary (Kirsten) was such a superb coach. He discussed strategies with MS (Dhoni) but on field, he never interfered with MS' style of functioning. But I still believe Chappell could have been a terrific coach for juniors." 

Further, while talking about Virat Kohli, Nehra said that Ravi Shastri is ideal for the current skipper and will get abundant support from him. 

"Look Virat's career and captaincy are on auto-pilot mode right now. He knows what he is doing and leads by example. He doesn't need gyaan (sermons) but support which Ravi gives him in abundance." 

"You know the best part about Ravi. If a player is going through a rough patch, he is the man. Even if the player is not able to middle a single ball in the nets, Ravi would make him believe that he is as good as Brain Lara! Now that might sound ludicrous to an outsider but those who understand cricket know that this is man-management." 

Without even mentioning Anil Kumble, Nehra subtly shared his views on an ideal coach-captain relationship and stated that the coach must be understanding. 

"If a coach, suppose is 50 years old and the captain is 28, it is the duty of the coach to understand the psyche of a 28-year-old and not the other way round. It doesn't work the other way. Not in cricket at least," Nehra exclaimed.

Moreover, when asked whether he will consider becoming the bowling coach of the Indian team if offered the role, he responded that, as of now, he hadn’t given it much thought. 

"No such plans as of now. Yes, I will do a bit of coaching and commentary but if you (are) talking about Indian team, no such thoughts till 2019 World Cup. After that, let's see what happens."

Nehra is widely remembered for his 6/23 against England in Durban, where he hardly put a foot wrong, but, when asked whether one night's performance can describe him, he said, "Sports is nothing but moments. People remember that night. I would like them to remember me as an honest trier. A person who didn't play after learning but learnt while playing." 

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