Irfan Pathan made his mark as 19-year-old during his debut tour of Australia in 2003-04. To see an Indian fast bowler running at full throttle and dismissing the likes of Steve Waugh, Adam Gilchrist with pace and swing, was a sight to behold for every cricket tragic from this beautiful nation.
But Irfan very nearly missed out from touring Down Under in 2003-04. The left-hander recently engaged in a conversation with renowned journalist Vikrant Gupta on Sports Tak where he revealed how then captain Sourav Ganguly had rejected his selection during a meeting with the national selectors ahead of the tour.
Australia, who were the reigning world champions at the time, has always been a graveyard for any young visiting fast bower, and this was the major reason behind Ganguly’s apprehensions.
“Australia tour is really tough tour. When a 19-year-old player goes there, he gets a lot of beating. I remember Dada also told me after the tour was about to come to a close, that ‘Irfan you might not know, but I didn’t want you to come on the tour. I had rejected you in the selection meeting,” Irfan Pathan told Sports Tak.
“Not because I had seen your bowling. But because, I didn’t want to take a 19-year-old player in such a difficult tour to Australia. But when I saw you, I was sure that you would do well’,” Irfan Pathan revealed.
Irfan Pathan on Sourav Ganguly-the captain and his favorite memory from the 2003 Australian tour
Irfan Pathan further heaped praise on captain Sourav Ganguly for backing him throughout his career.
“Hence, throughout my career, Dada backed me a lot. One best thing about Dada was that if he likes a player, he would back him completely. If he feels that one player is giving his best for the team, he would back him. When a captain comes to a youngster and says this, you feel a lot of confidence. Then you also start respecting him a lot,” Pathan further added.
When asked about his memories from that Australian tour, Irfan Pathan revealed that one of his most cherished moment was when he met his childhood idol Wasim Akram, one of the two fast bowlers – other being Kapil Dev- which he idolized in his formative years.
“The Australia tour was a memorable one. I had met Wasim Akram for the first time on that tour and I used to idolise him. There are two bowlers whom I used to idolise – first one was Kapil Dev. Allrounder, Best leader, great swing – and it is not easy to play in India. In Pakistan, you have kookaburra balls. But Kapil, in his time, made his name and role for himself, it was commendable, so I followed him a lot.
“Another one was Wasim Akram. I met him for the first time in that tour, and I was really happy, and had a lot of positive conversation with him,” he added.
Irfan Pathan claimed over 300 wickets across formats for India between the 2003 Australian tour to 2012. He retired from international cricket earlier this year.