While India was crashing to a humiliating series defeat to lower-ranked Bangladesh, opening batsman Gautam Gambhir packed his bags for Perth to work on his game with former Australia cricketer Justin Langer (JL).
Having last played for India in August, 2014, Gambhir wanted someone to look at his game and realised that a fellow opening batsman with similar mannerisms and build could be the man. “I’ve always followed JL’s career closely. He built his game block by block, step by step. After the death of my coach Parthasarthy Sharma I was looking for someone who could understand my game. I wanted to give it a shot with JL and that is why I am in Perth,” Gambhir told HT.
Gambhir, who averages nearly 40 in Tests and ODIs, decided against a county stint to be with Langer. The former Aussie opening bat is a decorated head coach at the Western Australian Cricket Association, having won back-to-back Big Bash League titles, Australia’s T20 league.
“I met JL briefly when he came to India with the Perth Scorchers during last year’s Champions League T20. I could instantly relate to him. What I like about JL is his intensity. His body language on the crease while batting or otherwise meant business. He is a no-nonsense guy and I like it that way,” said Gambhir who is keen to earn back his India stripes.
With close to 600 runs in the last Ranji season and 167 in Duleep Trophy, Gambhir made the right noises but failed to make the cut. “The idea is to improve my game and the rest is not in my hands. I am only 33, fit and hungry. Hopefully, working on my game in Perth will give me the extra edge for the coming season for Delhi or North Zone or India,” he said.
This being pre-season camp time in Perth, Gambhir will be following the schedule laid out for the Western Australia players. This includes gymnastics and martial arts. Gymnastics is practiced to improve diving and stretching while fielding and martial arts sharpen the footwork while batting. “It was fun doing kickboxing but it was an eye opener how Langer brought the cricketing context to both gymnastics and martial arts sessions,” said the left-hander.
On a typical day, Langer has two sessions with Gambhir in the nets after a gruelling fitness session in the morning. The batting sessions are aimed at taking Gambhir’s batting to the next level. Even Langer’s personal coach Neil ‘Noddy’ Holder joins the sessions, which take place at a facility called Revolution Sports in Perth.
“The best part about these sessions is that both JL and Noddy keep things uncomplicated. It is the ‘see the ball and hit the ball’ mantra they follow. There is hardly any talk about technique, etc,” said Gambhir, when asked if he was working on any specific technical aspect of his batting.