India's most successful off-spinner Harbhajan Singh believes Virat Kohli missing his county stint will not make a lot of difference in the Indian captain's preparation for the England tour.
Kohli suffered a neck injury during the 51st match of the ongoing Indian Premier League (IPL) between Royal Challengers Bangalore and Sunrisers Hyderabad last Thursday.
In a chat with Firstpost Harbhajan said, "I think, it is a blessing in disguise that he is not playing county cricket. He should have thought about it initially when his back was not right and maybe he shouldn't have thought about playing for Surrey at all. He need not get some practice out there, because he is too good a player to score runs anywhere in the world and I am sure he is going to come very good in England. I don't see how just three county cricket games would have helped him. It wouldn't have made that big a difference."
Harbhajan belongs to a select few who made their debut in the previous century and still is an international cricketer. The 37-year old credits his longevity to a lot of hard work from a young age.
"I trained really hard. Somehow, I knew that this (playing cricket) is the only thing I know. I made sure I didn't miss out on anything and worked really hard towards my goal which was to play for a long period of time. I worked towards it and God willing, I got the result as well."
In recent times, top cricketers like Kohli, AB de Villiers, who announced his retirement after saying he has run out of gas, have often conceded that heavy workload and gruelling nature of playing cricket across three formats, has taken a toll on their bodies and even drained them mentally.
"When you play sports, you are going to get tired at some point of time, but in the end every individual, every athlete knows their body better than any physios or doctors. You are your own physio and doctor, you understand your body better than anyone. So you need to take a call accordingly. If your body is not allowing you to play or isn't giving you a perfect situation to go out there and express yourself then that's probably the time for you to stop playing," said the veteran spinner.
The cricketer has donned the hat of a talk show host named Bhajji Blast where he interacts with different cricketers. "I am just talking to my friends on my show with a few cameras on which we aren't worried about," quipped the cricketer. "It is just a conversation you have with a friend. Some leg pulling and at the same time, talk about ups and downs in life," Harbhajan explained.
In recent times, captains have become wary of using finger spinners in the shorter formats of the game for fear of going for a lot of runs forcing bowlers to innovate to stay relevant. However, the Turbanator believes that the perception is misplaced.
"It is a perception that a certain bowler can't bowl to a particular batter or a batter can't face him. It is individual thinking, but over the years, the sport has been like that. Cricket has not changed, it is the mindset that has. I don't think bowlers need to change much. You can add a few new tricks to your bowling, which will be helpful. But, your stock delivery will always remain your main ball. If you aren't able to spin that ball, you're not a spinner. Cricket is a cycle, there will be days seamers will do well," he said.
"Say one particular left-arm seamer will come onto the scene and will start taking wickets. Following in his footsteps, another five or six seamers will start picking wickets. It is like a trend. Nowadays leg-spinners are taking wickets. After a year or so, people will understand how to play them and how to score runs off them. Then off-spinners will come back into the trend because by then, not a lot of off-spin would have been bowled. They would have forgotten how to play off-spin. Hopefully, the trend of finger spinners will come back into the game as they are very much part of the game," Bhajji said.
After a decade with Mumbai Indians, Harbhajan was bought by Chennai Super Kings at the 11th edition of the IPL. Defying all odds, the MS Dhoni-led side has made it to their seventh finals.
"The CSK dressing room is full of energy though people say that the team is filled with overage cricketers. But our success shows what experience brings to the table. When you have so many experienced players in one dressing room, you will do well. You will come out of those tricky situations as winners and that's what has happened," signed off Harbhajan.