My cousin Ekansh called after the game against the RCB. He is 15 and a keen cricketer. He has already played for Delhi under-14 and is my darling little bro.
After talking to me about the match and the obvious questions around the verbal squabble with Virat, he asked me, “Are you the John McEnroe of cricket.” Initially, I was pleasantly taken aback that my little Ekansh knew about McEnroe as his generation is more tuned to Djokovic or Federer. When I hung up and dipped into my clear vegetable soup, I met Ekansh’s point. He was concerned.
I can’t remember where but I do recall once reading that perhaps McEnroe was the only player in the history of tennis who could go berserk and play better tennis. Maybe, but it doesn’t apply to me. I wanted to call Ekansh and tell him the same. I wanted to tell him that I play my cricket hard, I play it with honesty, I lead my team with transparency and I play my cricket to win.
Keeping it simple
We all know what McEnroe thought about the umpires at Wimbledon. I wanted to tell Ekansh you’d have never seen me making those dummy appeals to mislead the umpire or reacting angrily to an umpiring horror. My challenge is that there is no subtle bone in my body. People say modern sportsmen need to embrace diplomacy but I’d like to leave that for politicians. I say it as I see it.
On mine and Virat’s altercation, I’d say it was two professional cricketers desperately wanting to win at all costs. For me, what happens on the field is left there and both of us did exactly that. After the game we interacted and everything is normal now. Sadly for those who are searching for TRPs in conspiracy theories, I must say there is no history to it. Whenever young ‘Cheeku’ and I are playing for Delhi or India, we will be taking on the opposition. I will be standing by him like a senior pro would for a youngster.
On Friday, we went to a Govindas on Albert Road in Kolkata. It is a place which serves some out of the world vegetarian food. I was sitting next to the picture where Lord Krishna is addressing Arjuna during Mahabharata. It’s one we all have seen and know the context as well. Arjuna was confused as he had to make a choice between killing his revered guru, his brothers, relatives and running away from the battlefield for preserving peace.
One member of the KKR support staff pointed out to me, “Do you face this dilemma in IPL when you play against your own India team-mates?” The comparison may seem far-fetched and outlandish. My reply to him was, “No. I’m playing for KKR and I want to win, it doesn’t matter who is the opponent. I do the same when I play for India as well.”
Hey Ekansh, I am neither McEnroe nor Arjuna, I am Gautam Gambhir.
The writer is KKR skipper