Gautam Gambhir: Battered, Bruised, Down, but not Out

Gautam Gambhir
Indian batsman Gautam Gambhir during a practice session. (Photo by Subhankar Chakraborty/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

The 15-man squad for the upcoming 3-match Test series against New Zealand was announced yesterday. Contrary to the keen interest shown by the selectors in the ongoing Duleep Trophy, a first of its kind, the selectors chose the 15 men out of the 17 who went to the Carribean.

Shardul Thakur and Stuart Binny were left out. But the decision of selectors came as a surprise to many, as everyone was expecting the under-performing players in recent time to get the axe, namely – Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan. Amidst all the speculations, Gautam Gambhir has been in sensational form in the ongoing Duleep Trophy and everyone expected him to back in the Test squad. So let us analyze Why Gambhir deserved to be in that 15-man squad?


Gautam Gambhir: A proven War Horse

In front of the Indian Team lies a grueling season where they will be playing as many as 13 Test matches. While New Zealand may not pose as much threat as the English Team does.

The memories of the 2-1 mauling in 2012, in our own backyard, are still fresh. And in these times we need someone who has been there and done that. After all, there is no substitute for experience. Whether he could have got a chance in the playing XI would have been a big question but his presence itself would have made a lot of difference.

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After all, he was the ICC Test Player of the Year, 2009 for some reason.

Who should have been dropped?

Now the most controversial question. To me, both Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan should have been dropped as they have looked out of sorts on numerous occasions in the past 2 or 3 years. Barring breathtaking debuts, these two have almost nothing to show for. Rohit has averaged just around 25 and Shikhar has averaged 38.12 in the past three years.

While the left-hander’s average can be considered average but if we take out two consecutive centuries that he compiled against Bangladesh and Sri Lanka then his average comes down to almost 30. This shows the level of inconsistency on his part.

Are domestic performances really rewarded with national team call-ups?

The whole fiasco makes me wonder whether these domestic performances are even considered while selecting a team. Or it is just that if we win, we behave as if we don’t want to change the winning combination and if we lost, we will defend players for their carefree attitude and give them another shot at cementing their place in the starting XI.

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I don’t remember the last time that an Indian had gone to represent the team at the highest level for a considerable amount of time by climbing through the domestic hierarchy. There have numerous youngsters who have been performing exceedingly well in domestic tournaments and ‘A’ tours but still, their contribution goes unnoticed.

Manish Pandey, Karun Nair and Sheldon Jackson are a few of the many. But we must pay heed to what discarded Indian players are up to and how they have been performing. An India team discard should not be discarded for life and completely ignored. And in this case, Gambhir is a proven performer and has rediscovered himself. And by drafting him into the squad would have boosted his confidence manifolds.

One of the major pros of bringing back a player, especially who has been so successful, coming back into the team is that he can stand the test of time and can stand out as the victor even in the most difficult situations. And that player has hit such a rich vein of form, he should be rewarded with a call-up to the team.

Why we need Gambhir more than ever?

The biggest concern is Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma have both failed to provide a long-term solution to the opening pair and the middle order conundrum. While one lacks technique and temperament, the other though extremely talented tends to throw his wicket after settling in. At this juncture, we may turn to our old Knight who is shining brighter than ever.

A note to the selectors:

‘Underperforming Talents’ should be dropped in favour of ‘Consistent Performers’ as the latter is the one who can win you matches.

An eloquent cover drive looks mesmerizing but what weighs more than one eloquent drive is tens of ‘nothing-great-about-it’ drives.

A note to disheartened fans:

Be optimistic as our Knight will never walk away from a fight and will continue to churn big runs in the upcoming domestic season until he proves his distractors wrong. Until then, adios!

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