New Delhi:It took him five long years to come back into the side, only this time he was more determined and consistent. With Anil Kumble calling it a day, Amit Mishra is all set to prove his utility as a leg-spinner.
In an exclusive interview with Cricket NDTV.com, Mishra talks about his journey and his future plans.
You made your international debut in 2003 where you played two ODIs. Now you are back in the team after five years. What took you so long?
That's one answer that I am still trying to figure out. I didn't understand why I was not picked as I was quite consistent in domestic cricket. Nobody ever told me the reason why I was dropped.
Do you think the presence of Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh made it difficult for other spinners to find a place in the side?
But Anil Bhai had retired from the one-dayers soon after the 2003 World Cup. After his retirement, other spinners were preferred and I was overlooked. I don't blame the players but it hurt when my performance and consistency got ignored for that long.
You started your career with Delhi, but then you shifted to Haryana. Why?
In Delhi, my performance was often ignored during the trials. And the feedback that I used to get were very discouraging. They would call me overweight, unfit, whereas I knew I was match-fit.
So do you think political support is required to get a break in the domestic circuit?
I don't know what could be the reason but yes many bright players don't get the right break at the right time. Selectors should give opportunities and back them.
Did you always want to be a cricketer?
I loved to play this game. I grew up in a big family with just one earning member (my father). So what drove me to professional cricket was that if I played good competitive cricket at state level then I might get a good job. I needed it to support my family.
You were always confident of yourself because in such a huge pool of talent you knew you would make it big.
I was not very sure of myself in the beginning. But after I played successfully for a couple of years and became a recognised name in the circuit, I became confident. I knew I could play for India someday. But after I got dropped from the team in 2003, I made a promise to myself that I will make a comeback however long does it take. I was determined that I would not quit cricket till I played for India again.
How did you keep yourself motivated for such a long time?
That was the toughest time of my career. I worked really hard on my physical as well as mental fitness. I could not see any reason why I could not play for India. I was no less talented than anybody. My performance was consistent.
Do you think that period changed you in any way?
Definitely, I have changed a lot as a human being. I was very aggressive when I started and never thought twice before venting out my anger. But those five years taught me to be patient. I learnt I couldn't control everything. You will have to take criticism in the right spirit and keep working hard. In the hindsight, I feel it was a great learning experience that changed my perception towards life.
And has your recent success changed people's attitude towards you?
Yes! Now people know me. Now they listen to whatever I say.
You think despite your good performance in Tests, ODI comeback is still a far-fetched dream?
No, I am hopeful that I will make a comeback. My job is to keep working hard.
Your maiden series saw the retirement of two stalwarts - Anil Kumble and Sourav Ganguly. What was the mood in the dressing room?
It was really an emotional moment. Anil Bhai's retirement was a shock for all of us as it was a sudden declaration. I thought he could have played for another 2-3 years. I wanted to learn so much from him. Nobody can ever fill his shoes. He was too great a player to be replaced but he never got the adulation he truly deserved. He was so approachable, always ready to help and guide the youngsters.
During the over breaks in the Test match against Australia, he would come to me and give advices which often gave results. Even Dada was very encouraging.
During the Australia series, you played under two captains. How different was that?
Seriously I couldn't make out the difference. The only thing was I looked up to Anil Bhai more as an idol. But both Anil Bhai and Mahi were very positive and aggressive. They were very good. Dhoni looks very cool but he's very aggressive.
How was your IPL experience?
It was a great experience. You get to play alongside great international cricketers and share the dressing room with them. As you look at them, you learn so much. They bring their own approach, strategy and style into the game, which is a great lesson for any budding cricketer. And I owe my comeback to it.
What are your future plans?
Nothing grand really. I just want to play as much cricket as possible, work on my fitness and keep things simple.