Gautam Gambhir plays a game of football during a training session.
In his seven years in international cricket, Gautam Gambhir has featured in 44 Tests and won the ICC’s Test Cricketer of the Year award in 2009. But many feel the coming series in Australia will be his biggest test. In a freewheeling chat with Hindustan Times before leaving for the tour, the 30-year-old left-handed opener said he looked forward to scoring an elusive century in his maiden Test series Down Under.
How are you feeling ahead of your first Test tour to Australia?
Feel pretty good about myself and my game. I have been getting starts regularly and it's always good to get some runs, but I would have been happier if I had got a big one (in the West Indies series). Especially in Indore because I was set for a big knock but unfortunately got run out. We all know Australia is going to be a tough tour, so you always want to have some runs under your belt. Still, I'm happy I have scored runs in the last two innings.
Hasn't 2011 been kind of topsy-turvy for you?
Look, the year started on a superb note. Everything was going very well till we finished the World Cup. That victory was one of the highs, not just in my career but that of everyone else in the team. Then came injuries and I was on and off the field. Apart from that, it's been one of the best years for me.
How frustrating can you get when you are injured?
It is very frustrating. When you are doing well on the field, the last thing you want is injury breaking your rhythm. Then the entire focus shifts from performance to rehabilitation. And once you are match-fit, you are not sure whether you will continue in the same way as you did before the injury. But a sportsperson can never shy away from injuries.
Was it scary when you suffered concussion in England?
Yes, it was. When you are suffering from blurred vision, you are bound to be scared, and so was I. Since it was a head injury, we had to be careful during the recovery period. I was pretty fortunate not just to have recovered soon enough but to be able to play at home and get some valuable practice ahead of the Australia tour.
Australia have brought the best out of you. What is it that gets you going against them?
Look, for me every opposition — be it South Africa, England or Australia — is as important as the other. At the end of the day, I have to come good against all opposition if I have to contribute to my team’s success. If the numbers say I have fared better against Australia, there is no secret behind this. I have never prepared differently, I just try to keep doing all the right things before every international game.
The last time India toured Australia (2007-8), you were on the verge of breaking into the Test squad, but had a fantastic run in the tri-series. What was the highlight for you?
There is no doubt every cricketer wants do well in Australia. Because of the playing conditions, because of the rich history of Australian cricket, it’s considered one of the most difficult destinations for a touring side. In the ODIs, it was very satisfying that I could make an impression. Not only did I score two centuries in the CB series, but the fact that we won the tournament after so many years was indeed special.
The last tour Down Under also saw a lot of controversies. Will they have any bearing on this one?
That’s history. I don’t think those events will percolate on to the field this time around. At the same time, we know Australia are a tough nut to crack. They will come hard at us, so we are prepared to give our best on the field.
Does the fact that you haven't scored a Test century of late bother you?
Look, I might have not scored a Test century in the last two years but that doesn't mean I haven't been batting well. I have been consistently giving good starts to the team, and that for me is more important. Every batsman knows that from zero to hundred is a long journey, and if you keep on thinking only about a hundred you may not end up scoring as much as you have been. Having been in good touch with the bat, I feel a century is just around the corner.
Would you say you are a responsible man now that you don't feature in the club of most eligible bachelors in India?
I have always been responsible, and I have always set my priorities right. Cricket was, is, and will be my priority No 1. Having said that, it’s always good to have someone around you with whom you can share all your thoughts, someone standing by you when you are not feeling good. In that sense I have been very fortunate.