India legend Harbhajan Singh is all set to begin his new innings as a key member of the support staff in a high-profile franchise in IPL 2022.
41-year-old Bhajji, who retired a few weeks ago, spoke to Cricketnext.com on several issues related to his career.
Question- Ever since you retired from cricket, is captaincy something that you always wondered about that you missed out on in a very successful career? Your candidacy did not get any serious support even in the IPL and never for the national team? No one talks about your success in the Champions League trophy for Mumbai Indians.
Answer- Yes! My captaincy, that is also an achievement, which nobody talks about. I didn’t know anyone in BCCI; Which can take my case forward, because it is also necessary (for national captaincy). If you are not the favorite of someone (powerful), then you do not get such respect, but, let’s leave this topic out. I know I was capable (to lead) because we used to guide a lot of captains. Whether I was the captain of India or not, it is not a big deal. I have no regrets if I don’t become the captain for my country. I was always happy to serve the country as a sportsperson.
Q: You may not have got the captaincy, but like some of the top Australian players of your era, you have earned a lot of respect from some of your arch rivals. Especially, someone like Ricky Ponting, who has said on record that you were the toughest bowler, you are difficult to face.
Answer- Ponting, (Matthew) Hayden is a big player and it feels good when he says something about your game. They will not praise you just like that. I must have done something special as a player. The Australian team used to be the boss team of our generation and it was always good to challenge and test ourselves against the best.
Question- In your days, many times you were preferred over a great player like Anil Kumble and still we didn’t hear any rumor or story about any dispute between you two on such sensitive subject?
Answer- I have a lot of respect for Anil bhai, as far as my cricketing knowledge is concerned, no one has been a bigger match winner than him. It has been an absolute privilege to play with him. Yes, on several occasions I was picked over him in the playing XI, as was the case during the 2003 World Cup, but I have never seen him worried (about such things).
He never understood why I was playing and he didn’t. I will just say a little thing about them. He is ten times better man than a great bowler. His contribution in my life is immense. He would always guide me at every point, and tell me what I needed to do.
Question- But, has it ever led you to any awkward situation when the captains preferred you over them?
Answer- No, it was not new to me. Whenever I get a chance to play, I always intend not to disappoint my captain or my team. Having said that, I can never be as good as Kumble’s shadow. What I tried was to make a small impression of myself.
Question- There have been some such statements in the recent past, due to which you are still angry with your former captain?
Answer- Look, everyone pronounces the same quote differently. I just wanted to point out that a lot of things could have been better after 2012. Sehwag, me, Yuvraj, Gambhir could have retired by playing for the Indian team, while all of them were active in the IPL as well. It’s ironic that the champions of the 2011 team never played together again! Why? Only a few of them played in the 2015 World Cup, why?
Question- That is, are you upset with Dhoni?
Answer- No, not at all. I have no complaints against MS. In fact, he has been a good friend of mine for so many years. I have a complaint against the then government of BCCI. I call BCCI the government. The selectors of that time did not play their role properly. He didn’t let the team unite. What was the point of bringing in new people, when the Giants were still around and they were doing well? I once confronted the selectors on this and their reply was that it was not in their hands and then I asked why are they selectors?