International Cricket

T20 World Cup 2024: Irfan Pathan – ‘Sometimes having a celebrity culture does not help India at all’

Former India allrounder Irfan Pathan feels that having a celebrity culture at times does not help the Indian cricket team and that he would like to have a “nice balance” instead.

“Australia does not have a celebrity culture. Fortunately or unfortunately we have that,” Pathan said in ESPNcricinfo’s T20 Rendezvous show. “Ideally, I would want to have a nice balance between Australian and Indian cultures where we come in between. Sometimes having that kind of culture does not help us. At the same time, we are what we are. We are not Australians, we are Indians. Our emotions are different. Our ethics are different, our mindset is different.”

This point came through as Pathan was discussing how the Indian head coach Rahul Dravid should handle the Rohit Sharma-Hardik Pandya situation heading into the T20 World Cup 2024. Hardik replaced Rohit as the Mumbai Indians captain ahead of the IPL this year but had a difficult start being regularly booed by the crowd at various grounds including Mumbai. In his captaincy, the team managed just four wins out of 14 games and finished bottom of the ten-team table.

Hardik’s form also suffered as he could only produce 216 runs in 13 innings, averaging 18.00, along with 11 wickets. Pathan, however, felt that the allrounder is a critical component if India want to go deep into the T20 World Cup and whatever happened in the IPL should not even come into the picture.

“I really think, as an allrounder, Hardik Pandya will play a very crucial role, the reason being that how many fast bowlers we have taken – three, only three pure specialist fast bowlers. Then the two other guys, Hardik Pandya who can bowl medium fast bowling and Shivam Dube. So if you can look at the team, apart from the three fast bowlers, you do not have [anyone else],” Pathan said.

“And when the time comes, I feel that is a very important factor if you want to win the World Cup. His three or four overs will become so crucial because if he does that regularly, which he has done in the last few games, we can play an extra spinner in West Indies if required because we play day games. Afternoon games will have a bit more purchase for spinners than night games because of dew. It is very simple, it is not rocket science.

“This is where he comes into the picture that he needs to feel good, he needs to actually believe that he can make a contribution and this is where the conversation of the IPL should not be even happening, not even once. Forget it, don’t even talk about it.”

Pathan also recalled how Greg Chappell’s aggressive style of dealing with personnel backfired and he had to leave the coaching role in acrimonious circumstances back in 2007.

“When Greg Chappell came in, his intention was pure, his intention was to take Indian cricket to a high,” Pathan said. “He wanted everyone to be treated equally and he wanted everyone to work in the same way which was for the Indian team, but his way was proper Australian, which did not work in India. His intentions were never a question.

“I have huge respect for him. I had told him also on his face, that your intentions are good, but make sure you find a way in the centre to make the best for Indian cricket because you want Indian cricket to grow but this aggression will not work.”

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