‘Traditionalist’ Gautam Gambhir bats for red balls in Tests
Out-of-favour India opener Gautam Gambhir on Thursday threw his weight behind the red ball in Test cricket, adding that the ‘traditionalist’ in him wants to play the five-day game in its purest form.
“I have always maintained that I am a traditionalist, and personally, I’d prefer playing Tests with a red ball. A 9am start presents an entirely different set of challenges to cricketers. They (batsmen) need to learn to counter seam, swing and early movement. Later, spin and reverse swing also come into the picture. The conditions are entirely different with a 2pm start,” Gambhir said on the sidelines of an event.
“I think at least one form of the game should be left alone. You can experiment with one-day internationals (ODIs) and T20s, but Tests should be played the way they are supposed to be.”
The Delhi Ranji captain last played Test cricket in 2014, and that appearance came after a hiatus of two years. Gambhir marked his return to form by scoring 356 runs in five innings in the recently-concluded Duleep Trophy, besides leading India Blue to the title.
His name, though discussed by the Sandeep Patil-led selection committee, didn’t make the cut in the 15-member squad for the Test series against New Zealand.
The 34-year-old steered clear of the selection poser. “I don’t play for selection, honestly. Ultimately, my goal is to score runs and that’s what I focus on. My job is to help my team win. We should control things what we can. It (team selection) is the selectors’ job, whatever they decide, that’s that.”
Spin holds the key
India kick-off their 13-Test home season with a three-Test series against New Zealand next week and the hosts are expected to roll out turning tracks. However, India’s skills against spin, traditionally considered a strong suit, have deteriorated rapidly over the past few years.
Monty Panesar and Graeme Swann stung India badly in 2012, and Moeen Ali’s innocuous off-spin inflicted serious damage to India’s confidence, and reputation, two years later. Earlier this year, on an under-prepared Nagpur track in a World T20 group match, New Zealand’s left-arm spinner Mitchell Santner and India-born leg-spinner Ish Sodhi ripped through the India line-up.
Gambhir, an accomplished player of spin, cautioned the hosts of the Kiwi threat. “New Zealand have always been a very gritty side. They have always been underdogs. No one rates them very highly but they have done well in all conditions. They have got three spinners. If they bowl well and if India play on a turning track, obviously their spinners can come into play as well. I feel whichever team’s spinners bowl well, will decide the series,” he said.