Harbhajan Singh Lost in Transition

Rewind back an year, a media person had asked the Turbanator Harbhajan Singh - “What kind of a bowler do you see yourself as now - One who has taken 400 Test wickets or one who can take 150 more?” He was miffed by the question and decided against answering the query. However, he did have a heated exchange with the reporter that never made it to the Television Channels as it was dropped on the editing table. The erstwhile spearhead of India’s spin bowling department appears to have lost his Midas touch with the ball and looks more and more akin to a charlatan of the once exceptionally talented, avid and aggressive bowler, who has participated in only three Test matches since then.

Harbhajan lives under the shadow of his past and often accredits himself for the laurels that he had earned long-ago. The man who is making his acting debut by essaying the role of a Police officer in Ashvini Yardi and Akshay Kumar’s Punjabi film ‘Ba ji In Problem’, and who recently put the screens on fire with his dance moves in a dance reality show, is investing a lot of his time and money in promoting a sports goods manufacturing company and has set up his own sports Academy. He also stresses that he wants to be an integral part of the Indian Test squad for 50 more matches, albeit without being perturbed with the present situation that sees him out of the team for long periods.

Once amongst the most energetic and fierce persons to play for the nation, the 32 year old has found new pals - sagging shoulders, a wrinkled brow, an inverted mouth. Lacking in confidence and full of self-doubt, he goes to work besieged by uncertainty and filled with ambiguities, anxious to regain form and cadence, ruined by the apprehension of nonsuccess. The days when he smelled blood on a cricketing field, have left him far behind and hence, gone are the screams and the snarls. And when he was recalled for the 1st Test against Australia, although it was to be his 100th Test cap, Harbhajan knew that it was time to deliver and if he failed this time round then he will not have a third chance. So tense was he in those two Test matches versus the Kangaroos that he played with too much caution and in the process tried everything – it wasn’t as if he was bowling badly, it was simply the fear within that made him apply all the tricks in the bag which meant that he never settled down to be in the groove.

He kept on experimenting with his line and length and with the loop missing from his deliveries; it turned out to be easy pickings for the Aussie batsmen. Once his attempts against Michael Clarke’s men went fruitless, he realized that time was up for him in the Indian lineup as he could not impress the 5 wise men of Indian cricket. Conversely, what has been surprising for the devotees is that, Harbhajan somewhere down the line has lost the plot as instead of giving a new lease of life to his cricketing career, he has pulled the plug and is now concentrating on a new innings as a singer, actor, film producer, a businessman and the chief administrator of a cricket academy. It seems like the man with the never say die attitude has meekly surrendered to a prolonged poor run of form. Cricket Today looks at Harbhajan’s other side and brings-in a detailed analysis of his upcoming ventures alongside the answer to the million dollar question – why should the lad from Jalandhar drop his plan of being a part of the glamour fraternity and what could be the elixir for his fledgling career at this hour.

FROM THE DRESSING ROOM TO THE FILM STUDIO

A national daily from Delhi had reported that the cricketer had got his production house named BM Media Productions registered in Mumbai a few days back and is testing the waters in the Punjabi film industry before turning towards Bollywood. The news piece stated that he and his cricketer friend Chandan Madaan also aim at promoting new comers into the industry. Even though his company’s CEO, Avinash Nanda did not reveal much about Harbhajan’s plans and the kind of movies the off-spinner would produce, those doubts were wiped away by the man with more than 400 Test wickets some-time back in January as he had said: “I am in talks with the leading actors in Bollywood and the Punjabi film industry. I have also finalised the directors for the two movies I am going to produce. The movies will be comedies and will entertain audiences in India and abroad.” He further argued: “Most of the cricketers are doing side businesses apart from playing the sport, so why should I be left behind. I feel there is a lot of money in making films and since Punjabi cinema is doing good, this is a lucrative option for me.”

FROM THE BALL IN HAND TO THE SINGING MICROPHONE IN HAND

The slow bowler had experimented with singing as well. He has sung a Punjabi song titled “Ek Suneha” and has posted its link on his Facebook page and also on Twitter. He tweeted: “Watch the first ever song sung by me on Youtube. Type Harbhajan Singh-Ek Suneha. Thanks a lot for your love and support guys.” India teammates, Yuvraj Singh and Virat Kohli had helped Harbhajan in promoting his debut video on the website. The song is actually a recital and has been composed by Sanjay Glory.

HARBHAJAN THE PLAYER IS OUT, HARBHAJAN THE MENTOR IS IN

Following the footsteps of his three illustrious teammates, Virender Sehwag, Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Yuvraj Singh, all of whom possess their own cricket academies, Harbhajan Singh opened the ‘Harbhajan Singh Institute of Cricket’ in his hometown, Jalandhar in April 2012. According to him the Institute has been visualized and designed seeing the zeal and passion of budding cricketers of Punjab. He says that his aim is to provide an infrastructure of international standards to the young boys to give them exemplary learning experience at the academy. The academy has been set up to produce nothing but the best cricketing talent from the heart of Punjab.

HARBHAJAN SINGH – RING KA KING

Bhajji gleefully took the task of hosting the wrestling show ‘Ring ka King’. Justifying the reason behind his choice for wrestling, Harbhajan said that as a teenager he loved watching khushti and always demanded this sport’s tape from his elders. When the opportunity to be a part of his favourite sport came to him, he grabbed it with both hands. His job in the reality show was to act as a motivator and to ensure that the show ran smoothly.

To conclude, it can be said that it is deeply disturbing to see that Harbhajan has lost the fire within which is why he isn’t motivated to put in those extra hours that will see him make a comeback into the Indian team. There’s a saying that in every sport, form is temporary and class is permanent. Harbhajan Singh is all class, but the man has been broken down to such an extent that a difficult road with too many twists and turns has left no guarantee of him being picked up again for the Indian squad.

However, he must not forget that he is the same Harbhajan who had scared the best of the batters with his guile, flight and his numerous variations. In all those years when he was performing poorly, he had not lost the art of spinning the ball, but it was the dip, the bounce and the curl which went missing from his balls and that was the main reason behind his ouster from the Indian squad. At this juncture, Harbhajan would do well to leave behind his plans of being a film producer or an actor and concentrating on reviving bowling.

All he needs at this juncture is a pep talk from someone of Anil Kumble’s stature who could figure out the minor tweaks to be made in his bowling that would make him deadly dangerous once more. This is something that the BCCI can do for him as he had played a vital part in India’s rise to no.1 in Tests. It could be a breadth of life into a dead soul and would guarantee his reappearance in the Indian side. It’s only then that he would be able to walk into the sunset with his head held high, without covering his face. The proposition bodes well for India as he could be a guru to the future generation of young spinners, showing them all this while that the old men more often than not, have all the answers.


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