‘I thought I would never play cricket again’https://indianexpress.com/article/news-archive/print/i-thought-i-would-never-play-cricket-again/

‘I thought I would never play cricket again’

Once one of Team India’s leading bowlers,Laxmipathy Balaji was out of cricket for three years due to a stress fracture...

Once one of Team India’s leading bowlers,Laxmipathy Balaji was out of cricket for three years due to a stress fracture,returning when the Chennai Super Kings gave him a break in the Indian Premier League. It has been a fruitful season for Balaji,with 36 wickets in seven Ranji Trophy matches and he is again the spearhead for Tamil Nadu.

After his performance against Uttar Pradesh in the Ranji semi-finals where he picked up five wickets but ended up on the losing side,coach WV Raman said that Balaji has made “a serious case for senior selectors to look at him”. Balaji spoke to the The Indian Express in Nagpur on Thursday. Excerpts:

Are you happy with your performance?

I would’ve been happy if my effort had helped the team reach the final. A win would have been more satisfying,that’s what gives a player satisfaction.

But this domestic season has turned out well for you.

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It’s been a pretty good season overall,especially since I was coming back to cricket after three years. I’ve not set any goals or planned anything out. I’m just trying to bowl well and enjoy the game. I hope I can continue this.

How tough was the injury layoff?

It was very difficult. One doesn’t understand it until one goes through it. I was out of cricket for a long time,and these things can happen at any time to any sportsperson. I had to follow a strong rehabilitation process and had to control my mind and fitness level.

Lots of people helped me — Ashish Nehra,WV Raman,my family and friends — but it was really frustrating at times. People thought I wouldn’t be able to come back to cricket,and during the operation even I wondered if I’d ever play cricket again. Raman helped me a lot. I needed someone who could guide me because I used to get frustrated,but he told me to be patient.

How did you spend time during injury?

n I read books about people who came back strong after suffering from injury,like Lance Armstrong and others. Sometimes I watched videos of my golden moments in cricket,so that I could get some confidence.

Do you think IPL was a good platform for you to make a comeback?

n It was,though I was worried about my ability and my performance. I was very keen to play,play against the best sides so I could judge myself. In the IPL,I bowled to quality players and it boosted my confidence. When I started bowling,I just wanted to get some practice which the IPL gave me.

Was it difficult to begin with an entirely new action?

n It was a re-constructed action because my body has been re-constructed. After my operation I knew I wouldn’t be able to bowl like I did earlier. It had to be done.