During the World Cup in New Zealand, Mohammed Shami was asked by a journalist about his journey to the Indian team, and how he had endured the tough times. “Itne bhi bure din nahi dekhe,” (haven’t seen real bad days), he said with a smile.
Little did he know then, in the midst of the best time of his career where he was getting raves about his action from the legendary Richard Hadlee to whom he was even introduced to by Ravi Shastri, that things would soon turn dire.
Almost immediately after the tournament that he had played through pain and injury, he was out of action for several months after a knee surgery. During the World Cup, he would have fluids sucked out of his knee and practice on the day before the match. He was India’s second-highest wicket-taker at the World Cup, with 17 wickets at 17.29 and an economy rate of 4.81.
The surgery put him on bed for two months after which he hobbled around on crutches before slowly finding the energy, and will, to start bowling again. On Tuesday, a few hours before the flight to Australia, he was still shuddering at the memory of the “bure din”.
“No one should face such a time. It was really tough times. When injury happened the doctors prohibited me from getting up from bed for two months. That was the toughest time for me. I was allowed to walk only up to the bathroom.”
His wife was pregnant with their daughter Aaira then and he was in crutches for 40 excruciating days. “The doctors told me not to keep my foot on the floor. All I saw was the living room from my bed; I didn’t see anything else in that time.”
It was difficult for him to look too far ahead then. Small but sweet gestures like phone calls from his team-mates helped and when he eventually hobbled his way out of the house, and met a few of his team-mates in Kolkata, before they departed for a tour of Bangladesh, he felt he was back in his (familiar) world again. “Aisa laga jaisey mein duniya mey vapas aaya hoon.”
Couple more months of hard work lay ahead of him as he underwent rehab in Bangalore at the National Cricket Academy and began to bowl.
It was only when he started to bowl, he says, that he felt that all was well with his world and that he could make a comeback.
“After that when I started associating with cricket – running, in rehab and meeting doctors – then I felt good. Playing in the Vijay Hazare and Mushtaq Ali trophies was important for me to get back into rhythm. I was keen to play four-five matches before the (Australian tour).
“I feel the time after injury is the worst for any player and you have to be mentally strong to be prepared for this. Injury is an irritating thing and I hope next time this (injury) does not come in my life again.”