| Harbhajan has followed Hooper’s exploits closely
New Delhi: Having recovered fully from a niggling injury, ace off-spinner Harbhajan Singh now wants to use his curtailed stint in Lancashire to get back into the groove for India’s engagements against New Zealand and Australia later in the year.
“I cannot wait to get going after being out of action for two months,” Harbhajan said on the eve of his departure to England.
Harbhajan is expected to join the Lancashire County staff on Friday. He missed the start of Lancashire’s campaign because of an injury in his bowling hand. The former West Indies skipper Carl Hooper stepped in as a stop-gap arrangement.
Hooper, by all accounts, has made a fine all-round impression in the three matches he has played, a progress that Harbhajan has followed avidly.
“I have followed Hooper’s exploits closely,” said Harbhajan. “Now it is my turn to pull in my weight for the County.”
Harbhajan has indeed kept a close eye on the County action, including the stuttering start of compatriot Yuvraj Singh for Yorkshire, whom he could well be bowling to in the National League tie in Manchester on June 20.
Harbhajan has been troubled by the injury in his bowling hand, particularly the big gap between his thumb and index finger. The off-spinner went to South Africa and was relieved by the medical opinion that he did not need a surgery.
“I was relieved they did not recommend an operation. They had a close look at the hand and felt it was just a case of over-use.”
He will now strictly adhere to the guidelines prescribed in order to avoid injuries.
“They have prescribed a set of exercises including instruments to help in strengthening the concerned area and it is responding very well,” said Harbhajan, known to his teammates as ‘Bhajji’ and ‘Turbanator’ to his opponents.
Harbhajan does not want to try out anything new during his stay in Lancashire, saying his desire is to stick to basics and get his rhythm back.
“I don’t want to experiment anything dramatic while playing for Lancashire. It would just be fine if I get my rhythm back and gain the necessary confidence.”
“I am not sure how many County matches still remain in Lancashire’s campaign. Also, since I have not played the length of my contract, my fee would stand reduced.”
Harbhajan had fond memories of trainer Adrian le Roux, who quit the Indian team a few days ago. “He worked magic for the team. He played such an important role and improved the fitness level beyond recognition,” he said.
Lancashire County chief Jim Cumbes, though, has no doubt Harbhajan will prove to be a massive hit with the local community which has a sizeable Asian population.
Mike Watkinson, Lancashire’s cricket manager, is relieved Harbhajan will finally join the squad.
“We are delighted to have secured the services of one of the world’s leading spin bowlers.
“Hopefully his talents will be the perfect foil for our crop of very promising young pace bowlers.”