It's not easy to watch your team getting pulverised from the sidelines on foreign soil, especially if you carry the tag of India's best new-ball bowler. But the summer in England didn't leave an injured Zaheer Khan with another option. Back at the nets after a "frustrating" hiatus, the left-arm fast bowler shared his thoughts with HT.
The series in Australia starts after Christmas… do you hope to make the trip?
I haven't set a date when I'll return to the fold. I guess I need some considerable time to heal. But I have started bowling at the nets and hope to be in the groove soon.
Your injury breaks are otherwise productive - you made a foray into restaurant business the last time, and this time it's the online clothing brand, of which you are a co-owner.
(Laughs) Well, they keep me busy. But that doesn't mean I want to be injured anymore.
How difficult was it to watch India suffer at the hands of England?
Personally, the series started on a disastrous note for me. And it continued being so. One thing sportspersons dread is injury. But I always pray that even if I get injured, let it be during the net sessions before the match. It's a terrible feeling to watch the team lose, while I'm not able to shoulder my responsibilities.
Was it particularly difficult as India went in with the ODI champions' tag?
Not really. Yes, we carried a lot of expectations. And also, things didn't go our way in England. But even in the losses, the team showed a lot of character.
How do you see the new crop of fast bowlers like Umesh Yadav and Varun Aaron?
They have got a good start. But to turn them into assets, a considerable amount of grooming needs to go in. Unless a young pacer is looked after properly and given proper guidance, endurance at the highest level doesn't come.
You talk about grooming, but every time a talent is discovered, we see a dip in his ability to bowl fast. Why does this happen in India that we don't have a bowler clocking over 140kmph consistently?
It's difficult to pinpoint one reason why we don't have bowlers who bowl fast, consistently... or rather, why our quick ones slow down. I guess it's to do with the sub-continental conditions, apart from the pressure of sustaining oneself at the highest level. Bowlers start by bowling quick, but with time realise the importance of keeping it tight or concentrating on line-length. Bowling quick doesn't always help.
Sportsmen are venturing into various businesses.
Leave aside the money bit, any other association can help take your mind off the game… at least, for some time. With the amount cricket that's played these days, other activities help you relax.