West Indies v India, 3rd Test, Dominica, 2nd day July 7, 2011

'I have a lot of cricket left in me' - Harbhajan

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Harbhajan Singh, who took his 400th Test wicket on Thursday, believes he has age on his side and will strive to achieve something really special in Test cricket. He said that he contemplated quitting cricket after the death of his father in 2000, but is happy now that he has made his family and country proud by becoming only the fourth spinner behind Muttiah Muralitharan, Shane Warne and Anil Kumble to reach the milestone.

"I am happy and honoured to be a part of those greats who have done well for themselves and their respective countries," Harbhajan said. "I am 31 and still have lot of cricket left in me. I have to make sure that I stay fit and achieve something special. It's up to me how badly I want to achieve those things."

Over the years, Harbhajan has gone through some rough times, with his action has been questioned and the controversy involving Andrew Symonds in Australia, but he said the loss of his father was the worst phase of his career.

"There have been quite few bad phases. I have faced lots of ups and downs, mostly downs in my career. Very hardly have I seen ups. I lost my dad which was my worst time, I didn't want to play cricket after that. Somehow, my family convinced me to fulfill dad's dream. Wherever he is sitting today he must be proud that his son has achieved something special today."

Needing seven wickets to get to 400 at the start of this Test series, he said the wait was excruciating. "Obviously, before I came here, I knew that I had 393 wickets. It was at the back of my mind irrespective of whether I wanted to think about it or not. I have worked hard for all these wickets. These last seven wickets made me work harder than ever before. It's over now. It's done. Hopefully, the next 200 will be easier.

"Taking 400 wickets is something special. Not many have done it. I am happy with what God has given me. I have enjoyed my journey and I would like to thank all my team-mates since 1998." He proceeded to name a range of cricketers including Anil Kumble, Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman, Javagal Srinath, Venkatesh Prasad, MS Dhoni, Virender Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh and Narendra Hirwani, who, he said, was a great motivator.

He talked about some of his memorable dismissals and the best batsmen he has bowled at. "There have been quite few dismissals. My first wicket was Greg Blewett; I bowled him. Then I got Michael Hussey in Bangalore, it was a doosra and he left it from outside off and it came in a long way. Even I was surprised, I have only seen Muttiah Muralitharan bowl that kind of delivery. I have enjoyed the challenge of bowling to great batsmen like [Ricky] Ponting - though I have taken his wicket many times he remains a great batsman - [Matthew] Hayden, Brian Lara, Steve Waugh."

Harbhajan also mentioned how Tendulkar had helped him with his bowling. "Whenever I bowl to him in the nets, I ask him what is happening and what I should be looking to do on wickets like these. Wherever we are touring, whether it is in Australia or New Zealand, I take his advice. He showed me how to bowl the slider. It is very useful in ODIs, as well as Test cricket. I've got a couple of wickets with that ball. You hold the ball like an off-spinner, but you release it with one finger, so it just goes like an out-swinger. But it can happen only with the new ball, so for that I have to come on early and bowl with a newish ball."

He also spoke about some of the best close-in fielders with whom he has worked. "Shiv Sunder Das was really special for India. He took some brilliant catches in that series against Australia. And I can't forget my dear friend from Tamil Nadu, Sadagoppan Ramesh. He generally liked to sleep a lot, but that day he was awake and took that blinder ... his catch to dismiss Shane Warne was brilliant. I still have to give him a treat for that. I promised him that some day I will take him out for dinner for taking that catch. And on a serious note, Das was brilliant, Aakash Chopra was also outstanding. Pujara was also very good in South Africa. There have been a lot of guys, but these three will definitely stand out. Rahul Dravid is obviously special in the slips. He has taken more than 50 catches off my bowling and I hope that he picks up another 50 in the future."

Sriram Veera is a staff writer at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • CricFan78 on July 10, 2011, 7:23 GMT

    kezzajakes india's bowling attack horrible, no wonder they have 3 bowlers in top 10 of ICC Test bowler rankings

  • donda on July 10, 2011, 6:31 GMT

    Great achievement by Harbhi what ever fans of cricket say about him but the way he bowled in 2001 series against Australia and took 33 wickets in 3 matches still makes him a legend bowler considering breaking Australian 16 match streak.

    No body rate him as a legend but he was unbelievable on that tour of 2001. If i was given a chance i would pick that bowling spells over any bowling in my life.

    Keep it up bhaji.

  • dummy4fb on July 9, 2011, 12:05 GMT

    Its surprising Gangulys name is not included in the list of people who have inspired Bhajji.

  • kezzajakes on July 9, 2011, 7:08 GMT

    psyclops222- all i want is a revolution for cricket. We can't be living in the past and when we only start applying what i have talked about, then India can win more matches. Let's face it, India's bowling attack is horrible! Like Yogi says, "Share your strengths, not your weaknesses." Our strength is batting and let's bat them out. Our allrounders are as good as our bowlers. Let's be honest here! This is my view, get my proposed line up and post a huge score and then let the opposition bat twice! Muski- you are wrong- I doubt Steyn goes around telling people his secrets. I doubt he would say, "Hey Ishant, come here buddy, i'll give you some pointers so in the future you will be able to get my team out". NO this is not going to happen. People just don't give away secrets or pointers just for the sake of it. IPL gives no indication on the ability of a test cricketer. It is just a 20/20 match where bowlers can put everything into 4 overs. I rest my case!

  • dummy4fb on July 9, 2011, 2:03 GMT

    Bhaji came out as someone normal .... I used to think him as someone who could speak .... TRUE and BOLD ........ but no mention of Dada showed it all !!

  • m_ilind on July 8, 2011, 15:32 GMT

    He is more of a support bowler now! living on his reputation!

  • kanishkazico on July 8, 2011, 14:55 GMT

    exactly! Sourav brought him in and backed him, surprisingly no mention of him. Bhajji is not a great bowler but a good bowler with a big heart, if he can't get wickets more often than he does, he has to keep contributing more often with the bat atleast to justify his selection, i would still take 3 wickets and 0 run from him in each test innings over 1 wicket and 30 runs

  • anurag1641983 on July 8, 2011, 14:42 GMT

    More or less every one mentioned ABOUT DADA "The TIGER"......that Bhajji Forgot.........BTH Congrats Bhajji.

  • KAIRAVA on July 8, 2011, 12:39 GMT

    Yeah, no more of SAURAV GANGULY by Bhajji. Very surprising & strange given that he was Bhajji's strongest supporter while SS Das & Ramesh gets wholesome coverage, in here. UPDATES: SS Das it is sad to hear that he was dropped from Orissa Ranji team last season after string of low scores and he was just 32 at the time. On Ramesh, he gets to play for India seniors and has even acted in a couple of Tamil movies.

  • bharathere on July 8, 2011, 11:39 GMT

    Interesting that he did not mention anything about Saurav Ganguly!!

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