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Gautam Gambhir missed the third Test match against Sri Lanka to be there at his sister’s wedding. While the Indian team and captain MS Dhoni understood his predicament some of the Indian media had a real go at Gambhir. One news channel went to the extent of doing a half an hour show on whether ‘Desh bada ya behen?’ (Is sister bigger than the country?). This was the most ridiculous piece of news I’d come across in recent times. How can one stoop down to such level?
Haven’t cricketers done enough to prove their love for their country? Remember Sachin going back to play the World Cup match immediately after his father’s death? Or Kumble playing in the West Indies with a broken jaw? There are incidents like these which everyone knows of and then there are plenty more which are not brought into public domain. Cricket is as much a mental game as it is physical. There are things beyond physical fitness which have an impact on your game. It could be a sour relationship with your spouse, parent’s health, and children’s problems at home to name a few. Rarely have we seen Indian cricketers taking a break to address these issues (players taking a break is common in countries like England and Australia) so one must respect when Rahul Dravid wanted to be with his wife during the birth of their second child or Gautam attending his sister’s wedding.
We cricketers have made peace with the hectic life cricket brings along. Important days like birthdays, anniversaries, and festivals mean very little to us. Not that we don’t feel like spending these special days with our loved ones but we know that it isn’t possible. And we are fine with it.
But then there are certain things that happen only once in your life and you don’t want to be away at that time. Sister’s wedding is one such moment. Hence please spare the man for doing what most of us would have done. Just that he happens to play for the country doesn’t mean that he’s not human.
I’ve known and seen Gautam right from the time he made his first-class debut against Rajasthan. He’s extremely serious about his cricket and above all a patriot at heart. He wears his heart on the sleeve and would go to any extent to serve his country. I have very little doubt that had he not become a cricketer he would’ve been a soldier.
Moreover, wouldn’t Gautam be the last person wanting to miss a Test match at this juncture of his career? He’s enjoying a purple patch and we cricketers know the importance of being in form. One tries to score as much as possible because you don’t know when the runs would dry up.
While this post has nothing to do with domestic cricket, a lot of players at the first-class level go through the same dilemma from time to time. Just that the media doesn’t feel the need to play it up and hence you don’t get to know about it.
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Aakash Chopra is the 245th Indian to represent India in Test cricket. A batsman in the traditional mould, he played 10 Tests for India in 2003-04, and has played over 120 first-class matches. He currently plays for Delhi in the Ranji Trophy; his book Beyond the Blues was an account of the 2007-08 season. Chopra made a formidable opening combination with Virender Sehwag, which was believed to be one of the reasons for India's success in Australia and Pakistan in 2003-04. He is considered one of the best close-in fielders India has produced after Eknath Solkar.