On November 1, 2017 when Ashish Nehra retired from all forms of cricket with a grand reception at his home ground in New Delhi, he was one the most expressive and fun-loving cricketers going around. But that was not always the case with Nehra. The left-arm pacer, who bid adieu to cricket after playing a T20I against New Zealand, revealed how quiet and passive he was when he first walked into the Indian dressing room filled with mega stars of the game.
Nehra made his Test debut for India back in 1999 during the Asian Test Championship in a match against Sri Lanka. Recalling the match in Colombo, Nehra said he bowled with the Kookaburra ball after having just two net sessions with it.
“I held a Kookaburra ball for the first time in my hand. Just imagine how times have changed. I am talking about 21 years ago when I had just two net sessions with a Kookaburra ball and went in to play my debut Test,” Nehra told former teammate Aakash Chopra on the latter’s show Aakashvani.
The left-arm pacer who hails from Delhi, said he only knew Harbhajan Singh when he was selected for the Indian side.
“I first reached Chennai from Delhi and from there we left for Sri Lanka. At Chennai when they gave me the key to my room I asked them which one is Harbhajan Singh’s room because he is the only one I knew and with whom I could speak. It was very quiet at the hotel. Even during practice I sat next to Harbhajan,” Nehra added.
Nehra, who picked up the wicket of Marvan Attapattu on his debut Test, said sharing the dressing room with then India captain Mohammad Azharuddin and Sachin Tendulkar was different feeling altogether.
“It was a good experience but it was very quiet. I spent the first few minutes just looking at Mohammed Azharuddin and Sachin Tendulkar. Till then I had only seen them on television. There was no IPL in those days….these days players have a lot of exposure which is a good thing. When I made my debut, most of the people in the team had not even seen me bowl as domestic matches were not televised. It was a quiet debut but Harbhajan and I would enjoy whenever we would get a chance,” Nehra said.
Nehra, whose career was filled with multiple injuries retired after picking up 157 wickets in 120 ODIs, 44 wickets in 17 Tests and 34 wickets in 27 T20Is.