Ahmedabad: Five months is not a long time in cricket. For Joginder Sharma it seems years. He looks inward, relives September 2007, when India were crowned Twenty20 Champions and he was all over plasma screens.
Those six balls to Misbah-ul-Haq gave him a sense of belonging to Indian cricket. He asks Cricketnext why that world has been withdrawn from him. As if Joginder Sharma never happened.
It's a story – let's hope an unfinished one – of a cricketer of modest talents, struggling for identity.
"People have forgotten about me," he said before the North Zone-South Zone Duleep Trophy game which he had to miss following an accident to one of his close relatives.
"The media doesn’t bother to write about me anymore. I was part of the Twenty20 squad when India played Australia at the Cricket Club of India, but have been overlooked for the tri-series. I don’t know why it happens to me," he says rather touchily.
Those lines, loaded with personal pronouns, do not quite commensurate with the numbers. Representing Haryana in the boondocks of the Plate Group, which in any case doesn't draw attention, he has had a passable season with the ball, but it's his batting that seems to be hurting his chances.
An average of 15.11 in nine innings doesn't reflect well against teams that are not good enough to be the top 15 in the country.
On the other hand it could be said that if there is a different wake to an international game, then Joginder could have been given just a thought, if not an outright ticket.
Talking of Joginder's run with the willow, if he wants to be a useful number eight for India, shouldn't he be batting higher than six?
He doesn't concur completely: "That thought (of batting higher) did occur to me. Eventually it’s my captain’s prerogative. If I am assigned a role I should be up for it at any number. When I started off I batted at eight. If you look at my charts this season, I got the starts, the 30s and the 40s, but couldn’t make them count. It’s been that kind of a year."
Reference to Praveen Kumar and Yusuf Pathan, who have pipped him to the post, is natural. Yusuf has been batting with refreshing latitude, and Pravin’s swing holds more appeal. Joginder’s serviceable game – a handy bowler and not-a-bad-bat – has somehow failed to stir.
He counters, "There is something called self-belief that no stats show. Agree, I have to do as well as Praveen has. But you need to bear in mind that he has been playing for two seasons now. I have been around for six. It’s never a smooth ride."
Inner strength, he believes, will help him break out of the low just as it did when Misbah hit him for a towering six in the last and decisive over of the T20 finals.
"I am an eternal optimist. I backed myself when Pakistan needed six runs in three balls in the Twenty20 finals. Before I bowled that over I recalled a game in a local tournament played in Delhi. The opposition needed 11 runs in two overs. I bowled the penultimate over and bagged three wickets conceding a solitary single. We won the match."
At a time when there is nothing happening in his career he wants to tap into those riveting memories. And start afresh to let know that there is more to his cricket than those six balls to Misbah.