Ashish Nehra, the India and Chennai Super Kings pacer had a stellar IPL 2015 and was simply superb for the Chennai Super Kings. Nehra bowled with a big heart and gave it his absolute best for his franchise. His performances would have easily excelled the performances of a bowler who would be 10 years younger to him.
At 36, Nehra admits that he doesn’t have too many years left in him. But somewhere deep in his heart, he still has that burning desire to play for India again. Nehra last donned the India colors in the semi-final of the 2011 World Cup against Pakistan. It was really shocking that he didn’t play a game for India after that.
In an interview, Nehra spoke without any strings attached and said, “I don’t speak to media too much but last three-four years have been really harsh,” Nehra told ESPNcricinfo in an exclusive interview. “India has tried out a lot of bowlers in T20 and one-day cricket which are the formats I was still playing and I was the highest wicket taker between 2008 and 2011 by far. In fact, I was in the top three in the whole world.”
“Till now, I don’t know what exactly happened and nobody ever told me. Whenever I played with the current lot – I am not saying they are not good, I am giving an example – be it in the Challenger Trophy or the Deodhar Trophy, I have been at par with them or better than them at times. They have tried 20 or 25 bowlers but not Ashish Nehra. I don’t know where I went wrong.”
The left-arm seamer also spoke at length about his stint in the IPL and was quoted saying, “It is not like I am bowling the easier overs in the middle,” he said. “I am still doing the toughest job and that gives me a good kick. Mohit Sharma and Ishwar Pandey are there who have played for the Indian team but at the same time I get the satisfaction of bowling the tough overs under the Indian captain. I still miss the India cap when I go to sleep. People were saying I will go to the World Cup after the Champions League but I was not even in the 30 probables. Even after the IPL, in ten days people will forget me.”
“IPL is the kind of format where sometimes you’re bowling well but you don’t pick wickets. People don’t notice unfortunately in this country,” he explained. “I’m the same Ashish Nehra. The way I bowled in 2009, 2010 and 2011, I have been bowling the same way in the last three years. I was trying my best. This year I have picked more wickets. So, people do recognise you more. I got a good team like CSK in the last two years. It does make a difference.”
Nehra also rued the fact that he didn’t play a lot of test cricket and said, “I do miss playing Test cricket. I could have played a lot more. I don’t want to give a number. A bowler like me shouldn’t have ended his test career at the age of 25. In 2008-09, Dhoni and (Gary) Kirsten (then India coach) wanted me to play Test cricket. When I look back, I regret not saying yes. I should have worked harder because I was only 30 then.”
The Delhi pacer said that he could take Harbhajan Singh’s path, who recently earned a national call up after doing well in the IPL. Nehra said regarding the national comeback, “I have always felt that I am good enough to play for India,” he said. “I still am good enough. It is a thought process, not because Harbhajan is back that I should be picked. I believe that whoever performs should be picked. It is not about the age. If I am doing well at 36 and the other guy is 26 and as good as me, you should go with him. You should not pick someone just because he is 20; not just with me but with everybody.”