Former India fast bowler Ashish Nehra expressed his regret over not playing enough Test cricket during his 18-year-long international career due to persistent injury issues.
“I love Test cricket and I still regret that I didn’t play enough Test cricket because of injuries,” he said during the Sportstar Sports Conclave Goa in Panjim on Friday.
Though Nehra made his international debut with Test cricket in 1999, he only featured in 17 matches in the longest format and played his final Test in 2004.
On the relevance and health of the five-day format in the international calendar, the 44-year-old said that the survival of Test cricket will depend on smart scheduling of ICC’s Future Tours Programme (FTP), while also making a case for the hosting of Test matches in traditional centres such as Kolkata, Mumbai and Chennai for increased viewership.
While placing Test cricket on a hallowed pedestal, Nehra also credited the Indian Premier League (IPL) for unearthing talent that would have otherwise gone unnoticed on the domestic circuit.
“Earlier, when there was no IPL, so many people took so many wickets and scored so many runs in First-Class cricket, but they never even played an India ‘A’ game. Now, even 17 and 18-year-old fast bowlers can be spotted even if they haven’t played domestic cricket. Now, when there is a talent, it will come forward,” he explained.
On India’s ICC title drought, Nehra, who was part of the 2011 World Cup-winning squad, said that teams shouldn’t be judged solely based on the number of ICC trophies they win.
“We can’t be desperate about winning ICC trophies. We have to be patient and the way the team has been playing in the last few years, I don’t think an ICC trophy is very far away. We shouldn’t judge a team based on how many ICC trophies it wins because there is so much other cricket also happening.”
Talking about Virat Kohli, Nehra said that the former India skipper should continue playing as long as he enjoyed the game and hailed the 35-year-old’s fitness.
Nehra, head coach of IPL 2022 winner Gujarat Titans, said he was a firm believer in coaching off the field and beyond the technicalities of the game.
“On the field, when there is practice, you talk about technique and all. I firmly believe that you can teach them off the field. You can discuss life, and I always try and give them suggestions so that they don’t make the mistakes I did,” he said.
Nehra, born in Delhi, revealed that his wife was the primary reason for his move to Goa seven years ago.
“My wife brought me to Goa. I am not a Delhi kind of person, and my wife also grew up outside India. So, after we had kids, we wanted to live in a quieter place with less traffic. She was keen on living in a place that is less hectic and has less pollution,” he explained.
Though Nehra admitted he didn’t keep in touch with local cricket in the State, he contended that the lack of proper infrastructure shouldn’t be an excuse for lagging. “You have to have that desire and you will find a way,” he said.
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