March 31, 2009

Gautam’s 18th Birthday

If Gautam Gambhir became a born again cricketer on the 4th day, then on the 5th he came of age many times over. In the space of two days he attained in cricket years, the equivalent of a player with voting rights – for heaven’s sake, after his innings, he can run for elections. And in this Indian team that counts for plenty.

Gambhir is now a test, ODI and T20 staple; regular test and T20 opener, but he still doesn’t open the innings in one-dayers, at least not when SRT decides to play. The day Sachin abdicates the opening slot for Gambhir should not be far. That’s if Sachin calls it right.

In the blink of an eye, Gambhir has scored so many runs, in so many formats, it’s confusing to tell where he got what.

When it started with the IPL hungama, I dismissed the tiny Kotla ground. When the tap ran in ODIs, I wrote them off as white ball freebees. When the run-dam broke in tests, I said sub continent.

By then, even if I doubted Gambhir’s mettle, I had started to enjoy his quirks, like that jaunt down the track. Here was a down the track walker not a wanker. And he walked, and he elbowed, and he gave as he got, and there was joy on top of the order, like there never was –

Or there was in another lifetime, in Sunny’s days with Chauhan. But that was some blurred memory, this was live cricket.

And still, for the life of me, I could not believe, that Indian cricket, in spite of its vision, was myopic when it came to the ODI opening slot.

Frankly, for me nothing, repeat nothing, supersedes the openers. They are where it begins, and quite often can end. They are the reason middle orders make bowlers bleed. So, when India decided to partner Sehwag with Sachin, and not Gambhir, I feared the worst.

After all, wasn’t Gambhir, even in Greg Chappell’s time, labelled as fragile and soft?

Yet when he acquitted himself in an ODI at no. 3, I was pleasantly surprised. But then returned the trickiness outside-off, a random demotion in the batting order and an assortment of cricketing speed-breakers.

It was baffling to see them break the Sehwag-Gambhir love affair – how could they not see what so blatantly obvious. Yet it was equally baffling to see Gambhir battle on, hour after hour after hour in Napier. At some point it, as he smothered another Vettori delivery into the earth, it looked like he’d merge with the pitch, some new installation art.

He was one with the cricket universe of Napier, he was in McLean Park, and McLean Park was in him.

Gautam Gambhir, on 29th & 30th March, made love to the game, and allowed the game to make love to him.

It will in all likelihood be his most unforgettable cricketing romance.

14 comments:

Damith S. said...

I hope Ghambir is not walking around with a limp after making love to the pitch.

straight point said...

excellent read...the love affair bit was something...

one of the reasons that india is doing well at home as well as overseas is that our opening has been consistent...at least one of them goes on to pay a valuable knock...and they are complementing each other like never before...

sometimes in the maze of breath taking stroke play of sehwag we tend to overlook gambhir's contributions which are as important if not equal...

...and this innings will finally make him stand apart from the over powering shadow of sehwag...

the boy has come of age indeed!

Aashrey said...

totally out of context, but did you know gambhir averages 90 under Dhoni?

scorpicity said...

Here was a down the track walker not a wanker.

LOL NC

On the point of ODIs, I see tendlya being a bit too selfish. It is time he steps down to 3. Works best in the team and sure enough there are endless opportunities to score hundreds as well. I suspect at 1, he sees more opportunities... he deserves it but gambhir should still be the starter.

Ankit Poddar said...

what a love affair sirjee! stuff that makes great classics!

btw i think it started with the t20 wc itself, just before the IPL, if you discount the century against bangladesh right after 2007 50 over WC!

Naked Cricket said...

Damith, had it been Chennai or Colombo, he would've been on the drip a la Deano.

Naked Cricket said...

SP, a little detail, prior to this innings GG's avg had just dipped under 50. Know most batsmen underplay avgs, records, but like to think it rankles at them.

as sehwag likes to say, 'gautam's a better batsman than me'. still i'd like to see if he lets guys like flintoff get under his skin - think the kiwis missed a trick there.

Naked Cricket said...

Aashrey, that's some number, care to share the details - make for a good bored post. You could mail me?

Naked Cricket said...

scorpi, totally man.

really think SRT wants 50 ODI 100s+50 test 100s; that's what SMG demanded of him ages back, sure struck a chord.

Naked Cricket said...

Ankit, t20wc it was.

around then, uthappa was still on song, was india's bow-wow man, and then the gap started to widen.

from then, uthappa got the rough end of the stick, while gambhir stuck it out.

namya said...

Well said NC..

Watching a kid grow up is always a pleasure :)

Naked Cricket said...

Cheers Namya!

sraghuna said...

The time has come to take the young game'f#*%ing' Gautam with Gambheerta!

Naked Cricket said...

SR, that's game theory