'I thought I won't be able to play cricket again'
He has two platinum nails inserted into his big toes and has cut down his run-up but pacer S Sreesanth says he has "a lot of fire in my belly" as he prepares for his comeback to the national team.
The maverick bowler, who will turn 30 next month, faced the dark prospect of an end to his cricket career because of injuries in his toes suffered on the field. He has been off the field for 14 months during which he has undergone surgeries.
At a time the Indian pace attack looks rudderless, Sreesanth, who has played 27 Tests and 53 ODIs for India, is raring to get back to the national side.
Photographs: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images
'I have a lot of fire in my belly'
"Earlier, I had a 26-step run-up to the bowling crease but now I have reduced it to 23 steps. But I have not cut down on my pace. Even while playing for Kerala, I have consistently worked up a fair amount of pace. The only thing that I need right now is more consistency," Sreesanth said.
Sreesanth said it was a fresh start for him and he was looking to make the most of it.
"This is a fresh start for me. I want to extract every ounce of enjoyment possible from the matches that I would play from now on. Be it for Kerala, India A or India, I don't want to relax one bit. I have two platinum nails inserted in my big toes but I have a lot of fire in my belly," he said.
Photographs: Krishnendu Halder/Reuters
'I used to sob like a baby as I was forced to move around in a wheelchair'
"Earlier, I used to think that there are days where I can relax. But now I know that life is fickle. You have to give your hundred per cent as long as it lasts," he added.
The pacer said that the scary thought of not being able to play for India had crossed his mind during the injury lay-off.
"Who says men don't cry? I used to sob like a baby as I was forced to move around in a wheelchair for two months after twin surgeries on my toes," said Sreesanth.
"To be honest, I started thinking that probably, I won't be able to play cricket again. It was such a scary thought. Those 14 months were the darkest phase of my life," he added.
Photographs: Mike Hutchings/Reuters
Sreesanth indebted to the support he received
Sreesanth was indebted to the support he received from various quarters.
"After two months on wheelchair, I had to walk around in crutches for another three months. Thanks to BCCI, Kerala Cricket Association and NCA for standing by me in crisis period. The moment, I announced that I am fully fit, Kerala CA didn't think twice before selecting me," he said.
The maverick pacer will be playing for India 'A' against England at the Palam ground in New Delhi on Sunday.
So what did he do during the break? The man, who is now a month shy of his 30th birthday, said, "As I got busy with my cricketing commitments, I had stopped penning my thoughts in a diary. I would write about each day of my life during that phase. I watched the CDs of my good performances for India. We have a rock band and did a bit of jamming and yes, prayed a lot."
Photographs: Jayanta Shaw/Reuters