Ishant Sharma has demonstrated that putting country ahead of club isn't just rhetoric, after missing the IPL following ankle surgery to be fit for the international assignments later this year. In an interview, the India pacer talks about his injury, comeback and life.
How is your progress?
I am feeling very good, I have started bowling. At the moment, I am bowling four overs a day, four days a week. One should be able to bowl six overs at full throttle four times a week.
You took a big decision to skip IPL to get fit for international cricket.
My priority, and that of every cricketer, is country, club comes second. I asked many seniors and physios about this and they said, 'It will be good for you if you can do it (undergo surgery) now and miss the IPL'. I followed their advice.
Surgery was advised after England tour last year. Do you regret delaying it?
When I was in Australia, it wasn't that bad. It wasn't like I can't play in the team. Maybe it would have been fine had I taken painkillers and continued playing after my return. But after Australia, I didn't want to take any chance. It could have got worse had I continued playing. If I had undergone surgery after England, I would have recovered in time. But then, I wouldn't have had matches under my belt. Obviously, I didn't want to miss the Australia tour.
There seems to be stiff competition. So many bowlers are coming in?
Yeah, it's good to have healthy competition. I always believe, if you are good enough, you can keep your place. I don't think about competition, I also think it is good for the future and good for the India team. My job is to keep working hard and bowling well. It will pay off in the end.
When are you expected to regain peak fitness?
I don't know how long it will exactly take, but I should be fit by, maybe August or September..
How has your stint at NCA been?
It is going pretty well. The way the physio and trainer are treating me, I feel stronger than I was before. My ankle is getting fine too. I need to bowl my four overs and do weight training and running as of now. I came here (to NCA) for two weeks initially, I came back again for a fortnight. Whenever I need progression, I come here.
What are the different fitness requirements for different formats?
Each format needs different levels. If you can play Tests, you can play ODIs and Twenty20s. In Tests, you need to put more effort, bowl at least 17 overs in a day and that's not an easy thing to do.
Are your teammates in touch with you?
Yes, Yuvraj Singh is here. Laxman, Sehwag, Gautam, Munaf are all in touch with me. It is a good sign when seniors ask about you.
What went wrong in England?
Form is temporary, class is permanent. I bowled well in England and Australia. I was in good rhythm. I was a bit unlucky not to get wickets. These things happen, I can't help. But I will keep bowling and trying.
Did you feel upset you missed the IPL?
You feel bad when you see they are missing you. But for me, the country always comes first although we are professionals and shouldn't be thinking this way. People got to know me only as an India player.
You've bought an Audi, built a new house. Is marriage on the cards?
Whenever I feel tired after training, I go for a long drive in my Audi, which is a beautiful car. And no, I am still too young to get married.