7 seconds. Yes, 7 seconds is what Ishant Sharma takes to sign an autograph. Now don't suspect an injured hand, it's just that he has changed his signature! As strange as it may sound, the premier fast bowler has done this on the advice of a Hyderabad-based graphologist, Ramesh Yadav. What's more, he has changed the spelling of his first name too, to make it ISSHANNT. All this to be at peace with himself.
"Initially, I couldn't believe how a signature change can bring success. I wasn't prepared to do what Mr Yadav was telling me to. Then, I thought I should give it a shot. And I must say it worked for me," he said before he left for Australia. It all sounds bizarre and confusing but Ishant claims he is a somewhat changed man now. "I do not know how and why, but I'm more at peace now since the signature change."
Cricketing numbers support the 23-year-old's claim. Post IPL, in the West Indies, he was named the man-of-the-series after claiming 22 scalps in three Tests.
"Instinctively I still end up signing my old signature as it is hard to give up. But I'm working on it. I have so far exhausted about 20 notebooks practicing." If it is about luring luck then things have been patchy since the West Indies tour. In England, he picked only 11 wickets in four Tests and got injured as well. Against West Indies at home, he took only five wickets in three Tests. Even in the Boxing Day Test, he bowled with fire but is wicketless.
The two signatures are very different. In the new one, emphasis is on his first name. "I haven't changed them in my bank account or official papers as that is a long drawn process," he said. Ishant is not the first superstitious player. From a red handkerchief to a favourite vest to a pair of socks, cricketers have done it all. Anything that gets them runs or wickets.
The writer works for ESPN's sportscenter.