'Not easy for an Indian cricketer to retire like Swann'
Graeme Swann's sudden decision to retire might have taken everyone by surprise but spinner Harbhajan Singh feels that for an Indian cricketer, the decision to quit doesn't happen overnight as the pressures and demands are much higher in this cricket-crazy country.
"I don't know what were the conditions that prompted Swannn to take such a huge decision but it doesn't happen like that for an Indian cricketer. I am not comparing the pressures and rigours but if any Indian cricketer takes such a decision, he will be under intense media scrutiny which at times can get very difficult," Harbhajan said on the sidelines of Punjab's Ranji Trophy game.
Image: Harbhajan Singh
Photographs: Chris Brunskill/Getty Images
'Swann could have played for a few more years'
Harbhajan, who is a veteran of 101 Test matches has had a roller-coaster ride in his 15-year-international career.
"In India, it is difficult for a cricketer to show that he is under some kind of stress. Here, you can only retire when you don't want to play anymore or the motivation is lacking. Having said that, I believe a quality bowler Swann could have played for a few more years," the 33-year-old spinner said.
Harbhajan termed Swann as a real match-winner for England who should have achieved more international success than 255 wickets from 60 Test matches.
"Look, he has helped England win a Test series in India. For a spinner outside the sub-continent, it is a big achievement. He has had success during the last Ashes series in England also. Whatever little I watched during the current Test matches, I don't think he bowled badly," Harbhajan explained.
"For a spinner growing up in England, it is challenging to become an off-spinner. The line and length needs to be altered on each of the four days of county cricket or five days of Test matches. The pitches in England don't have a set pattern. It changes with each day and accordingly the length varies. Swann did that with great efficiency," Harbhajan said.
"The amount of revolutions that Swann imparted at pace higher than what off-break bowlers bowled made it difficult for batsmen," he added.
Image: Graeme Swann
Photographs: Mark Kolbe/Getty Images
Launching a product line
Harbhajan, who is still overcoming from shoulder injury has started bowling at the nets although he has some "stiffness".
"Hopefully, we can post a good target for Delhi and win the match. I have started bowling and the pain is not there. But there is still some stiffness that needs to be monitored," Harbhajan said.
The feisty spinner is also turning entrepreneur with his brand of sports gear and apparels with branding of "Bhajji Sports".
"I have entered the sports equipment business with 'Bhajji Sports'. I am applying for ICC clearance so that cricket bats with 'Bhajji Sports' logos could be used for international matches. In domestic circuit, the Punjab team is already wearing Bhajji Sports dresses for the Ranji Trophy matches. I will soon have an official launch of my product line," he concluded.
Image: Harbhajan Singh
Photographs: Amit Dave/Reuters