New Delhi: India captain Harmanpreet Kaur has revealed that she wanted to take an indefinite break from the game because of the controversy that followed the World T20 in the West Indies.
The team management and Harmanpreet took a collective call to drop senior player Mithali Raj for the semifinal against eventual runners-up England, triggering a massive controversy that led to divisions in the team and ouster of coach Ramesh Powar.
Harmanpreet played the Women's Big Bash League right after the World T20 in November but back home the talk of unrest in the team and her strained relationship with ODI captain Mithali gathered more steam.
She was fed up with it before the New Zealand tour began under new coach W V Raman. And then came the ankle injury that gave her a "much needed" break from the Indian dressing room.
"It (the injury) gave me a much needed break from international cricket and the Indian dressing room. I had almost made up my mind to let my parents know that I wanted to take a break. I don't want to hold on to a spot in the Indian team just because I am a senior player," she told ESPNCricinfo.
"I wanted to get away from cricket. Whatever happened around the team before that was immensely draining for me. Some of the things said were so far from reality that I felt, 'I need to step away from this madness for a while'. I'm here to play cricket. If people want to drag me into unnecessary things, drag the team into unnecessary things, I have to stop trying to reason with them," said the 30-year-old.
She twisted her ankle ahead of the first T20 International in New Zealand, following the team's triumph in the preceding ODI series.
"I twisted my left foot while playing football during a warm-up ahead of the first T20I in New Zealand (in early February). I somehow managed to play all three T20Is despite being in some discomfort because to call up a replacement at such short notice may not have been possible. Besides, all through my career, I've played with fevers, shoulder, ankle and wrist injuries, so I didn't feel like this was going to be anything significant.
"The taping and painkillers had been working fine in the warm-ups, so I thought I could deal with it. But during the matches, my movement was severely affected. Scans later revealed that there were some Level 1 and 2 ligament tears near the back of my ankle. I was at the National Cricket Academy from February 22 to April 9, and that break was a blessing in disguise for me," she said.
Harmanpreet said the negative talk around the team after the World T20 affected her mindset adversely.
"Look, I was to play in the WBBL after the World T20, and for a while, after coming from the West Indies, I was even considering only playing in the overseas leagues and then making my way back into the Indian team. I spent hours alone, asking myself, 'Why do I play sport?' Because I enjoy it, because playing cricket is the only thing I've ever done in life.
"Agar khelke mazaa nahi aa raha hai (If I'm not enjoying the game) then I don't want to block a place in the side, because money is not everything. Yes, we've only just started making some money from playing cricket, but if cricket is not giving me joy, I am happy to walk away rather than hold on to that spot just because I have a Grade A contract.
"So all of these thoughts were bothering me a lot. Mentally I was unwell, unfit, but that injury bailed me out of that terrible head space," she added.