The first thing people ask me these days is how overjoyed I am, now that the life ban has been revoked, or how the last few days have been different from the last twelve years of my life.
I am not an emotional person.
I like to keep my emotions to myself. I am happy that my name has been cleared. When I had scored a century in my last Test (against South Africa in 2000) I was very fit and could have played for another two years. That is the only thing I sorely missed all these years.
I was hoping that this ordeal will end soon. But this was the time it was supposed to end. I would have been happier if it had happened earlier. You have to show patience, because it always pays. That’s what my religion also teaches me. There will be times when you will be tested and you have to prove how much you can take it.
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The only time I felt hurt was when some people tried to make a fuss about me sitting as an expert on television and talking about the game.
I think people took things too far. Everybody is allowed to earn his livelihood, even the person who is in the jail gets paid when he works. But I never questioned anybody. I just tried to take things in my stride.
Crisis teaches you a lot of things. There were few who stood by me in this period. I don’t blame anybody. When things go wrong, people don’t want to get in touch with you or come near you because they think they will also get implicated but these are very personal views. I would always back the person who is down because you need to help people when they go through bad times.
But I have no complaints against anybody. I didn’t expect any person to say anything in favour of me either. Kapil paaji, (Late) Raj Singh Dungarpur, Kamal Morarka really supported me.
My fans, not just in India but all over the world, called me and sent me messages.
My prime job now is to serve the people of Moradabad because I have a big responsibility towards them. I still remember the first time I went there after I got an election ticket and was overwhelmed by the love and affection. I was bruised with people trying to get close to me; I don’t remember getting as many bruises on my body when I was playing. I felt that I must have done something good to deserve Allah’s blessings! I have moved on in life. I was repeatedly asked if I regret missing out on playing my 100th Test. I am not a person for records.
When you play for so long, records are bound to be made and one day they will be broken.
I am happy to have played 99 Tests because not many people can play that much either.
Even during the period of ban, I never let go one chance to play cricket. Nothing much came towards me except a few parliamentarians’ matches and a veteran series. Without offending anyone, I can tell you that those friendly matches are not very exciting thing to play.
They asked me to captain the side but it was very difficult to lead the side. I just wanted to enjoy the game and I really enjoyed myself batting again in that series against Pakistan veterans. It wasn’t very competitive but you know how India- Pakistan games generally are. I won’t mind fun matches on Sunday.
I tried to bide my time doing the same routines I did all my life, like hitting the gym.