The man with three IPL hat-tricks to his name, Amit Mishra talks about his India and IPL career, the highs and lows, chances of an India comeback and more in an exclusive interview to cricket.com. Excerpts below:
You are the second-most successful bowler in the history of IPL after Lasith Malinga. Has anyone ever introduced you that way?
No-one has so far (laughs). You are the first one to acknowledge that! If I had played as many games as Malinga, probably I would have got more wickets. Also, it’s always an advantage when you bowl the last two overs at the end as chances are that either you will go for runs or get wickets and that has helped Malinga I feel.
Do you find it a bit unfair that you haven’t got the recognition despite being so successful in the IPL?
I have been out of the Indian team for the last two years despite doing well consistently in the IPL. Of late, this has become a trend that youngsters who do well in IPL get more limelight. It’s not that if people don’t recognize my performance, I will quit the game. I can’t quit because the game has given me so much. I don’t pay too much attention if people still don’t recognize my contribution. I am aware that I have to fight for myself and I have been playing for the last two decades. What else do I need to prove? Lot of players have come and vanished in 4-5 years but people know that there is one Amit Mishra who has been playing for 20 years.
Finally, the IPL is all set to begin in September. What’s your first reaction?
I am very happy and relieved that it's happening. We all were waiting for this tournament. The whole world waits for this tournament. I would have been happier if it was happening in India but we know that in India it’s not conducive right now to host such a big tournament. I would also urge the authorities that all steps must be taken as far as the health and safety measures of players are concerned.
How tough it has been for you as a bowler to be away from cricket for so long?
I never had such a long gap. Even if I wasn’t playing international or domestic cricket, I was always busy with club cricket and other matches for my company. It won’t be easy to get into the groove so quickly. It will require almost double the hard work. I have been trying to remain as fit by doing my workouts and training but bowling and getting into a rhythm isn’t that easy. Here, I think my experience will help me as I have seen in the past that what needs to be done on certain occasions to get your momentum back.
You have got a hat-trick thrice in the IPL and also made numerous comebacks into the Indian team. Which has been tougher?
For me definitely making a comeback to the Indian team has been tough. It is tougher, when I have been playing well and yet not able to make a comeback. Last time, I got injured and after that, I performed well yet I couldn’t get my place back. Had Trent Boult taken that catch, I would have had my 4th hat trick in the IPL! But, yes a national comeback despite doing well in Ranji Trophy and that too while having the additional responsibility of captaincy and being so consistent in last two seasons of the IPL and yet not been able to get my place back hurts. You can work as much but the comeback is not in your hand while getting a hat trick is in your hand!
Do you feel that sometimes your age also comes in your way while it doesn’t for a superstar like a Dhoni or a Tendulkar?
Age should not be a criterion to judge your performance. One should always see whether a player is fit or not. I think players like Yuvraj Singh or Harbhajan Singh or Virender Sehwag should have been spoken to on what they were thinking about their future. You don’t doubt their ability or passion. They also work hard. But, I think if they are lacking in anything say fitness, then they must be told what is required or what is expected of them. If properly communicated, the players will not feel bad.
A very successful legspinner like Samuel Badree has been very effective with the new ball while someone like you rarely bowl with it?
Everyone has different skill sets. Because of his action as he is quicker in the air, Badree skids the ball and batters gets less time to play. That is why he is more effective with the new ball. I have bowled in the early seasons of IPL with the new ball. It depends on many other factors for example who is batting and what is the situation of the match etc. If two overseas batsmen are batting, an Indian spinner will invariably come into play. Important thing is to get wickets.
Have you ever discussed the art of leg-spin with Badree or Imran Tahir?
I have as Badree was our spin consultant last season (in the IPL). What I feel that with a new ball your options become lesser if you talk about variations. You have to be very accurate if you want to bowl with the new ball. In fact, I have had a lot of discussions with Anil Kumble over the years who too has told me that with the new ball, your options (to attack) are limited and if you err slightly, can go for boundaries.
The current generation doesn’t have much patience as far as rejection is concerned. You have moved on even though dropped unfairly at times. How do you keep yourself motivated? Has quitting ever crossed your mind?
Yes, I too have thought about it. After all, I am human too. But, I have always tried to reflect on who is going to get the benefit if I continue to be demotivated? It will benefit my competitors. After every rejection, I have tried to work even harder on my skills. I have always tried to stay away from the negativity, as there are very few people in life who would motivate you when you are down. Self-motivation is very important. We all are surrounded by pessimism when we don’t see much success. If we try to work harder, darker thoughts generally go away.
Why are wristspinners more successful compared to finger spinners in terms of taking wickets?
Because they work harder! They have to bowl at least two-three hours in the nets to get their variations right. Since they possess more variations in comparison to finger spinners, I think chances of getting wickets are more for wristspinners.
Do you still believe that there is one more comeback left for you as far as the national team is concerned?
Of course, I do! That is why I am still playing. I am not someone who will keep playing just for IPL. My fight is with myself. I should always be ready and prepared when a call from the Indian team comes. That is the belief I always have. Yes, I am still hopeful of making a comeback.