The 37-year-old Zaheer, whose career was ravaged by injuries including a shoulder injury in the 2014 IPL that signalled the start of an end to his playing time, said injuries were part and parcel of the game.

“You don’t have any control over them and it’s something you take in stride and that’s what I have done all through my career. I always have been saying… You can only control the controllables and if you are injured you can’t do anything about it and have to move on. The fact I have been making comebacks and responding to injuries (rehabilitation) well is something which I am really proud of,” Zaheer told PTI here.

The bowler, who announced his retirement today, said cutting short his run-up during his stint with English county team Worcestershire benefitted him a lot as he became a better bowler with more control. ”If you look at my career — the initial part and post-county part since I cut short my run up and which I always wanted to do. But because I always was playing with the Indian team, I could not do it at that point. When I got off from the Indian team I used that time to cut short my run up and the county season was the season I cut it short,” the left-arm pacer said.

“The fact was I needed to do some new things and that’s what I could do in Worcestershire (in 2006). When you are playing regularly with the international team you cannot try new things. ”My line and length got better and I got better control because of the number of overs I bowled there. Plus the conditions helped swing bowling which was an added advantage. I could explore that as well. Distinctly it (county stint) helped,” said Zaheer who celebrated his 37th birthday on October 7.



Zaheer, who captured 311 wickets in 92 Tests and 282 wickets in ODIs, did not see his inability to reach the coveted landmark of a century of Tests as a small setback in his career which he said personally was highly satisfactory. ”Not really, the way my career has been right throughout I was never really looking at chasing a particular no, but yes 100 Tests is something special, but I was taking a game at a time,” said Zaheer.

“The whole journey was amazing and I am proud of the fact that I started the journey from Shrirampur (in Maharashtra, his birth place) and then in Mumbai from National Cricket Club (of former India opener Sudhir Naik). I reached where I have reached today is something I am really proud of,” said Zaheer, who is one of the craftiest bowlers of his era.

Zaheer, the second-best fast bowler from India in Test cricket after Kapil Dev in terms of the number of wickets claimed, said he had thought a lot about his decision to call it a day, spoke to several of his former India mates and then took the call. He also stated that next year’s IPL, which he hopes to play, would signal his final bow from the game of cricket.

“I have been thinking about it for a week to ten days. As I was preparing for the season I kind of realised how far I can go. I thought it best to stick with the shorter format and sign off at IPL by playing some games in the next edition. That’s when I decided (to quit). It’s about playing at the highest level and when I knew I was not able to prepare for the longer format I decided …Yes, it’s time.

“I spoke to Sachin (Tendulkar), Ajit (Agarkar), Ashish (Nehra), my family. I spoke to everyone before I announced — right from Yuvraj Singh to Bhajji, (VVS) Laxman, Anil (Kumble). I spoke to (Javagal) Srinath, as well. We had a very good laugh and he was pushing me to play for another year and I told him you know how fast bowlers are and he finally agreed with me.”

Zaheer said he certainly wants to quit the game totally after next year’s IPL when asked whether he would play in the domestic T20 event. ”I have not really thought about all of it, but I would definitely like to sign off at the end of IPL.” Asked about the high and low points of his international career that commenced in 2000 in the ICC Knock out tournament in Nairobi, Kenya, Zaheer said they were winning the World Cup in 2011 under Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s captaincy and India attaining the world no. 1 in Tests, two years before that.

“Getting to Test World no. 1 and winning the World Cup were the high points of my career. As a team when you achieve something special it’s very satisfying.” He did not single out a career low. ”Not really. I have looked at things and taken things as a learning curve and there have been no real disappointments.”

The retired bowler is firmly of the opinion that a leader of the pack in the Indian bowling attack will emerge once they gain enough experience. ”There is a lot of talent around and definitely lots of fast bowlers around who need guidance and the motivation to do well in international cricket. That’s how it goes. I have always endorsed that experience plays a crucial role. As they play more and more, a leader would come out”.

Asked about the Decision Review System, which the Indian team backed by the BCCI refuses to accede to in bilateral rubbers, Zaheer echoed Dhoni’s views that he was for it when technology adopted is free of errors. ”It’s the team’s decision and something both teams have to agree upon, it’s a technology related question. Technology always helps, but it needs to be fool-proof.”

With the big decision taken, Zaheer said he needed some more time for it to sink in before deciding on his future course of action vis-a-vis the game. ”I would like to contribute in some way possible and stay connected with the game but right now I am soaking in the moment. I am happy with the decision, looking back at the fond memories and the journey I shared with different people over the years,” he concluded.

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