The Indian team may have been hugely disappointing in their 1-3 loss to England in the recent five-match Test series, but one man – Varun Aaron – exuded hopes that his international cricket career was very much on track. The 24-year-old Jamshedpur lad, who overcome a long-standing back injury and rehab and made it to the England tour after a 16-month lay-off, impressed all with his pace featuring in the final two Tests.
Aaron is famously remembered for bowling the fastest ball ever by an Indian during the 2010-11 Vijay Hazare Trophy final against Gujarat at the Holkar Stadium in Indore, where he clocked a scorching 153 kph to Niraj Patel who shouldered arms to that zippy delivery.
Aaron, who is currently training in Chennai-based MRF Pace Foundation under Aussie pace guru Glenn McGrath, spoke to Sportskeeda in an exclusive interview.
You sat out for the first two Tests before finally getting an opportunity in the third Test at Manchester and subsequently played the fifth and final Test at Oval. How would you assess your performance on the England tour?
Well, I was determined to do well since I was staging a comeback to the Test side after a long hiatus – this was my first Test after my debut in the 2010-11 season against West Indies. I relished bowling at Old Trafford as the deck had purchase for the seamers. I had a three-wicket haul in my comeback Test and bagged two more in the Oval Test, so couldn’t have been disappointing with my overall performance.
“I’m keen to play in Australia”
You had to warm the reserve bench for the first two Tests against England. How optimistic were you about your chances of playing in the Test series?
I knew I had to be patient as the likes of Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami and Ishant Sharma were faring well with the ball. So, there wasn’t any disappointment as such at not playing the first two Tests, but I was well aware that if an opportunity came my way I had to grab it with both hands.
You made your ODI and Test debuts against England and West Indies at the same venue – Wankhede Stadium in 2011 and played your first international game in England recently after almost a 16-month lay-off. Your thoughts.
My international cricket journey has been an up-and-down ride. I made my ODI and Test debut in 2011 and was picked for the Australia tour in 2011-12, but had to opt out due to a stress fracture. I then recuperated and played in the 2012 IPL where I featured in a few games before the back injury surfaced again.
I hit an extensive rehab programme, followed by a surgery in England last year before finally playing in the Indian domestic circuit. I owe a lot to my strong support staff, my parents, people at NCA, BCCI as well as trainer Rajnikanth at MRF Pace Foundation – they all have helped me recuperate from my prolonged back injury.
What are the lessons learned from the England tour?
As a cricketer you keep learning all the time. Any match can turn on its head in a matter of sessions – look at the Manchester Test – England were 160 for 7 but went on to garner a 200-run lead. It shows there is no scope for complacency.
You had to withdraw from the 2011-12 Australia tour owing to a back injury, and another Aussie tour awaits us this December – must be keen to stay injury-free and make the cut?
I’m keen to play in Australia and help my country beat them in their own backyard. You can always stake your claim as one of the top sides in the world if you can beat the Aussies in their own den. As for staying injury-free, certain things are not in my control but I have become more aware of my body, which will help me in the long run.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar has emerged as more than just a tailender with a doughty display with the bat in England. How important it is for a guy who is primarily a bowler to chip in with the willow?
I think tailenders have a responsibility of contributing to the side as a batter. The contribution of a bowler with the bat holds the key in proving the difference between a win and defeat. I haven’t able to focus much on my batting in recent times, but will be keen to work on my batting so that I can be handy for the side batting at number eight, nine, ten and eleven.
Indian cricket was looking forward to the lip-smacking prospect of Varun Aaron and Umesh Yadav bowling in Australia on the 2011-12 tour, but unfortunately, you sustained an injury. India never had two bowlers who could hurl the ball at more than 150kmph at both ends. So hopefully this 2014-15 Australia tour see both of you hurl the red cherry from both ends.
Hope so. Umesh and I are good friends and it will be great if both of us can play together in Tests. Selection is something that is not our hands and I’m confident both of us would bowl from both ends in Tests sometime in the future.
The 2015 World Cup is just some months away. You are picked in the Test side now – do you think realistically it is possible for you make it to the marquee event?
Test cricket is the ultimate thing for any cricketer and I’m no different. Having said that, I will look to keep performing in whatever format I get a chance to play and surely make it to the ODI side. As far as the World Cup is concerned, there is a lot of cricket to be played before that, and hopefully I can make the most of the opportunities and stake my claim in the WC side. Just want to take one match at a time!