He isn’t the first fast bowler to miss an entire season with injury,and definitely not the last. Nor is Rohan Raje the first one to spend sleepless nights,hoping that he gets back to full fitness at the earliest. But you can’t help but feel a little sorry for the young Mumbai pacer when he narrates his tale of woe,the series of unfortunate events that have led to him not having touched a cricket ball for close to 12 months. Well,not having rolled his arm over with one to be more technically correct.
And it’s only understandable that the 25-year-old right-arm paceman is not comfortable with cooling his heels as the high-profile fifth edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) gets underway. It was in this very tournament after all that Raje had sprung to the spotlight from near oblivion four years ago as part of the Mumbai Indians outfit in IPL-I.
It’s fair to say that life has taken a twist for the worse ever since for Raje and his cricket career. And in the build-up to the 2011-12 season,while the Mumbai Ranji team desperately sought out young pacers to replace their injured senior lot,Raje was conspicuous by his absence. This despite being considered the most athletic of all the upcoming fast bowlers in the city. I’m frustrated now and I don’t know how long it’ll take for me to be back to full fitness, says Raje. It all began to go awry during a preparation camp with the Indian Oil team at Ananthpur,where Raje suffered a ligament tear on his ankle,which led to a two-month break from the team.
Everything was going fine but I injured my ankle on the outfield at Ananthpur. I thought things will be fine after two months but that was not the end of my injury woes. There was more to come, Raje says.
Then came the first day of the Mumbai Ranji team’s training session at the MCA-BKC ground. Raje was struck on his left hand while trying to stop a straight drive,and he received four stitches,leading to a few more days of inaction. No sooner had he recovered from the hand injury,that Raje was struck down by the severest injury of the lot,one that would rob him off the entire season.
It was a mysterious groin injury,that nobody really managed to diagnose in time. I did feel really helpless and lonely. There were nights where I couldn’t sleep at all. And most days were spent dreaming about making a come back to the cricket field, says a despondent Raje. And the only solace was rewinding back to his bowling clips from the only Ranji Trophy match he has played in his career back in 2010 against Railways,where he ended up with three top-order wickets.
Life can be cruel sometimes. Before the season was about to begin. I was hoping to get my place back in the Mumbai side again. And then the series of injuries occurred. It’s really frustrating to sit at home and do nothing. You see your teammates playing and there is nothing you can do then follow the instructions given by the physios as part of your rehab program, explains Raje. He adds,You can fight with your competitor on the field but fighting injuries is a different thing altogether. It’s more of a mental thing.
Raje’s schedule over the last couple of months has involved constant visits to Andheri,which basically means a two-hour journey from his home in Badlapur. It was only on the recommendation of teammate and friend Abhishek Nayar that the young pacer had even considered the new rehab schedule,for which he has been consulting with former Indian team physio John Gloster. And finally life’s beginning to look up for Raje. And he’s happy with the way his recovery is coming along.
But the fear of getting himself injured again,however,has already left a huge scar on his attitude towards fielding,he reveals .The Ananthpur incident in particular has ensured that.
Says Raje,I know that I will make a comeback next season. In desperation once I even tried to go and play. But every time I bowled,there was this fear of getting injured again. So I’m not going to attempt that again till I know I’m 100 per cent fit.