England in India 2012-13 December 6, 2012

Full analysis: the Sehwag run-out

What was Gautam Gambhir thinking?
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Things You Should Try To Avoid Doing On The First Morning Of A Test Match, Number 1:
When batting with Virender Sehwag, on a pitch clearly to his liking, and when he has begun to clop along at a run a ball, dozily ignore the fundamentals of running between the wickets you should have been taught as a schoolboy, and run him out.

Gautam Gambhir ignored this basic tenet of opening the batting for India, when Sehwag neatly turned a ball towards the midwicket boundary. Patel and Finn hared after it at high speed, Sehwag and Gambhir began running at medium speed. Perhaps the batsmen assumed, not unreasonably, that, given that the ball had come off Virender Sehwag's bat, it would inevitably go for four. Perhaps they were assuming there would be an unending series of overthrows that would require them to run 80 to 100 runs for the shot, so were pacing themselves accordingly - why knacker yourself out on runs 1, 2 and 3 and risk missing out on runs 75 to 80? Who knows. In any case, there was something of a lack of urgency.

With two runs duly trotted, Patel dived and saved the ball from the rope, and Finn picked it up. There was clearly a third run available. It was Sehwag's call. He made that call. Unfortunately for him, at that very moment, Gambhir appeared to be otherwise mentally engaged. He was, as all the worst, unlicensed coaching manuals advise, standing still, with his back to his partner, not even contemplating the possibility of a third run.

ESPNcricinfo's in-house mind-reading and psychoanalysis team, based in an underground bunker in Geneva, Switzerland, have various theories about what Gambhir was thinking about at this moment. The most likely subjects flickering through his brain are considered to be: 1. A solution to the Middle-East crisis; 2. The feasibility of a manned space jaunt to Mars; 3. His future career as a Formula 1 driver; 4. The purpose of existence; 5. Whether he should buy a domestic power drill to put some shelves up, or employ a professional shelfman to do it; and 6. How Aleem Dar's hair always looks so lustrous.

In the left-hander's defence, he has batted with Sehwag on many occasions. Sehwag is renowned for many things. Scampering quick third runs is not especially high on the list of Classic Sehwagian Batting Traits. It is certainly well below, for example, cutting loose on the first morning of a Test match and giving his side immediate control of the game. Which is what he appeared to have allocated as his Plan A yesterday. But Gambhir's inattention was nevertheless instrumental in Sehwag having to resort to Plan B: trudging back to the pavilion and spending the rest of the day checking his emails and wondering why India were not scoring at 4.5 per over.

England were given control of the game, and never relinquished it throughout another gripping day of hard Test cricket. No other batsman was able to score with freedom thereafter. Gambhir himself became less fluent, battled to 60, then played a loose cut at Panesar. Tendulkar played an outstanding innings of patience, restraint, craft and delicate deflections, ended by a similarly excellent piece of bowling by Anderson, who was persistently threatening all day.

Had Sehwag not been needlessly run out, the day could have been very different. It might have been almost the same. He might have been out to the next ball he faced. But he might have been 90 not out at lunch, and had a double-century on the board by tea. So it is with Sehwag, in home Tests at least. He remains India's most important wicket. The scope of possibilities is significantly diminished as soon as he is out. Whether he is out due to good bowling, his own error, or Gautam Gambhir having a mid-morning snooze.

Things You Should Try To Do On The First Morning Of A Test Match, Number 1: Clean-bowl Cheteshwar Pujara.
Monty Panesar did this. It was a sound strategic move, and not an easy one to pull off. In a fascinating duel, Panesar had induced the first signs of uncertain footwork in Pujara so far this series, with his improved variations of pace and flight. Pujara had twice skipped out of his crease and, with a whip of the forearms, sent perfect on-drives scuttling to the boundary rope. Then Panesar deceived the Rajkot Rock with one that went straight on. The crowd was surprised. Pujara was surprised. The stumps themselves were presumably not expecting to be disturbed whilst he was batting. Monty unleashed a dance that is still being studied and interpreted by the world's leading choreographers.

Andy Zaltzman is a stand-up comedian, a regular on the BBC Radio 4, and a writer

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Santosh on December 7, 2012, 3:31 GMT

    Andy, what thinking! Cricinfo's bunker in Geneva...hhah hha! Extreme comedy!

  • Dark.Matter on December 7, 2012, 3:26 GMT

    Gambhir having mid-morning snooze thinking about purpose of existance lolzzzzzz

  • David Cousins on December 6, 2012, 23:42 GMT

    India have the perfect batting partner for Sehwag: Ohja. 0 not out in 84% of all his test innings. Just teach him to run when Sehwag says "Run!", stop when Sehwag says "Stop!" and to sacrifice his wicket when things go wrong. It would be like having 2 Sehwags!

  • manu on December 6, 2012, 22:39 GMT

    hahaha lolz Man ur funny!

  • Sachin Yadav on December 6, 2012, 19:15 GMT

    Way to go Andy. Much needed humor that has been missing lately. Keep writing.

  • Priyank on December 6, 2012, 18:42 GMT

    Brilliantly written...And facts about Sehwag are totally right...He can snatch the whole game from opposition...in just two sessions...

  • Colin on December 6, 2012, 18:11 GMT

    Will we be seeing Monty on Strictly Come Dancing in a few years?

  • Bananaluvr on December 6, 2012, 17:46 GMT

    The dances an underhand Bhangra

  • prasanna on December 6, 2012, 17:36 GMT

    Indian players learnt cricket watching the Brits when they were here,so maybe they are still picking up few nuances of the game from them.India coming back in this series with these same set of players,very hard to see.

  • dkl on December 6, 2012, 17:33 GMT

    Its 9:00 am here, I am sitting in my office sipping some coffee and reading this article...it has to be an interesting one...Oh wait it is interestingly interesting :)...in the league of Monty's dance..kudos Andy for another good one!

  • Santosh on December 7, 2012, 3:31 GMT

    Andy, what thinking! Cricinfo's bunker in Geneva...hhah hha! Extreme comedy!

  • Dark.Matter on December 7, 2012, 3:26 GMT

    Gambhir having mid-morning snooze thinking about purpose of existance lolzzzzzz

  • David Cousins on December 6, 2012, 23:42 GMT

    India have the perfect batting partner for Sehwag: Ohja. 0 not out in 84% of all his test innings. Just teach him to run when Sehwag says "Run!", stop when Sehwag says "Stop!" and to sacrifice his wicket when things go wrong. It would be like having 2 Sehwags!

  • manu on December 6, 2012, 22:39 GMT

    hahaha lolz Man ur funny!

  • Sachin Yadav on December 6, 2012, 19:15 GMT

    Way to go Andy. Much needed humor that has been missing lately. Keep writing.

  • Priyank on December 6, 2012, 18:42 GMT

    Brilliantly written...And facts about Sehwag are totally right...He can snatch the whole game from opposition...in just two sessions...

  • Colin on December 6, 2012, 18:11 GMT

    Will we be seeing Monty on Strictly Come Dancing in a few years?

  • Bananaluvr on December 6, 2012, 17:46 GMT

    The dances an underhand Bhangra

  • prasanna on December 6, 2012, 17:36 GMT

    Indian players learnt cricket watching the Brits when they were here,so maybe they are still picking up few nuances of the game from them.India coming back in this series with these same set of players,very hard to see.

  • dkl on December 6, 2012, 17:33 GMT

    Its 9:00 am here, I am sitting in my office sipping some coffee and reading this article...it has to be an interesting one...Oh wait it is interestingly interesting :)...in the league of Monty's dance..kudos Andy for another good one!

  • Shubham on December 6, 2012, 17:18 GMT

    Really frustrating that Sehwag got himself out in such ridiculous way when India needed him the most.....

  • Shajib dhar on December 6, 2012, 17:02 GMT

    it's nothing but careless stuff and it's not the 1st time Sehwag did it. Wake up Sehwag before you end.

  • Shariq Ansari on December 6, 2012, 16:59 GMT

    hehe nice one.....Gambhir really has to sort out the decision making regarding which power tools to use for his shelves....hope he get's this done soon!

  • ultrasnow on December 6, 2012, 16:46 GMT

    The most likely subject flickering through his (Gambhir's) brain - how I blew my chance to become India captain fidgeting outside off stump

  • Sachin on December 6, 2012, 16:43 GMT

    LOL, hilarious and hard hitting at the same time, the IPL spoiled Indian stars...need some lessons in basic

  • Veen on December 6, 2012, 16:02 GMT

    You are a funny man

  • scorpio on December 6, 2012, 16:02 GMT

    wonderful commentary. straight, to-the-point, highly entertaining. i have alerted my colleague in boise ID.

  • Neil on December 6, 2012, 15:44 GMT

    I always enjoy the blogs...the Six options take the cake.

  • Pradeep on December 6, 2012, 15:27 GMT

    ..or the seventh possibility could have been 'Why is Samit Patel playing Test cricket?'

  • Azhar on December 6, 2012, 15:17 GMT

    Can you like tone down the humor? My stomach ache is killing me!

  • Anil on December 6, 2012, 15:04 GMT

    Andy, with all due respect to you and your innovative thoughts, I do not rate Gambhir so highly as someone contemplating on Mid-East crisis or a Mars sojourn. He might actually have been absolutely thoughtless; or pondering over whether to hire Ravindra Jadeja or Parthiv Patel to do his job. Or, as you suggested, was contemplating on saving his energy for those 70-odd runs that they might be forced to accumulate after the fictitious overthows...But most possibly he was tricked by Aleem Dar's hair; that was priceless from you!

  • sumit on December 6, 2012, 15:01 GMT

    Andy .... another gem. Though whats your take on English batsman suddenly playing the spin too well? Did the coach and captain decided a certain style/approach thats not out yet but is working just fine for these batsmen because there was no doubt about the english vulnerability against spin!

  • KVECC on December 6, 2012, 14:59 GMT

    Enjoy Reading

  • Lawson Kirkpatrick on December 6, 2012, 14:52 GMT

    Do be careful Mr Zaltzman. The last two paragraphs of section one are perilously close to the truth.

  • Huzaifah on December 6, 2012, 14:46 GMT

    I didn't understood a word

  • Sunny on December 6, 2012, 14:29 GMT

    still rolling on my carpet with laughter, my 2 yr old daughter still wondering what did i smoke today!! and when i said i read Andy's rocking blog...she is like "whatever!!". she is totally convinced i m on something. and then my wife read it and she ended up on the carpet too and now my daughter is totally freaked out!! The last i saw my daughter she was near a phone waiting to call 911!!

  • Jerry on December 6, 2012, 14:29 GMT

    Sound advice, Andy :)

  • Cliff on December 6, 2012, 14:16 GMT

    Interesting that one SR Tendulkar only scoring his second half-century of the year (14 innings) didn't rate some mention. SRT hasn't scored a century since January of 2011 which must be the least purple patch of his superannuated career.

  • Ram Ravikumar on December 6, 2012, 14:07 GMT

    What a way to explain what happened out there in the middle of the first morning of the first day of a very important test match. I came in to work today and read this with my morning coffee and it still cracks me up. Way to go. Like Gambhir I am now going for my mid-morning snooze. Ram Ravikumar :)

  • rakesh on December 6, 2012, 13:47 GMT

    ultra cool !!:-)...ultra-light reading...keep going chief!!

  • Anonymous on December 6, 2012, 13:39 GMT

    Gambhir surely was on another Planet wondering how the game is played there. it was the most "Kindergarden" way of thinking on his part. Although I played only club cricket in the WI then 20/20 Soft ball cricket here in Toronto, the fundamentals are the first run should be taken quickly on the lookout for additional runs with trust being placed on the partner's call. Very poor inattentive on Gambhir's part in giving England the upper hand in the game. GaAmbhir should visit a psychologist before he steps out to the crease the next time.

  • Milind on December 6, 2012, 13:34 GMT

    I guess second paragraph explain story gambhir and sehwang assumed 4 runs on that hit , they underestimated englishmen as they(Indians) are on home turf and MSD doing his worst captaincy asking his strike bowler (Ashwin as he(MSD) thinks so) to bowl long spells, Ashwin become much more predictive to englishmen

  • sankaran on December 6, 2012, 13:27 GMT

    That was very funny to say 'readers of unlicensed coaching manuals'

  • Hasnain on December 6, 2012, 13:10 GMT

    LOL...Hilarious...I loved 'Monty unleashed a dance that is still being studied and interpreted by the world’s leading choreographers'

  • Abhijeet on December 6, 2012, 12:58 GMT

    Hi,

    I would prefer this article rather than the number crunching one...This is far better than the one which is involved with lots of (unnecessary) numbers....

  • Harsh on December 6, 2012, 12:52 GMT

    Andy! You have outdone yourself this time! While you enjoy the test in my home town and I chuckle to myself at this piece in an island far, far away, India are in shambles. There's a good laugh to be had even in this situation, I guess, and thank you for bringing that point to light!

  • nirmal on December 6, 2012, 12:17 GMT

    awesome article. I hope gautam reads this and feels ashamed of himself.

  • DHMTS on December 6, 2012, 12:05 GMT

    Various theories about what Gambhir was thinking about at this moment... Hilarious.. LOL..

  • arun prakash on December 6, 2012, 10:58 GMT

    Grt psycho analysis of Gambhir's brain. But how come you missed 'captaincy' ideas or 'i should always be a hero for Kolkatta' thought?

  • Lakshmi Narasimhan on December 6, 2012, 10:55 GMT

    Straight from a Bollywood flick or a South Indian movie

    " Monty unleashed a dance that is still being studied and interpreted by the world’s leading choreographers. "

  • p.vinayagamurthy on December 6, 2012, 10:45 GMT

    The feasibility of a manned space jaunt to Mars very good article sir.

  • Kashif M Awan on December 6, 2012, 10:07 GMT

    A delight to read as ever, a wonderful piece but a bit too optimistic over Sehwag and too hard over Gambhir!

  • Indraneel on December 6, 2012, 9:31 GMT

    Always entertaining. Seriously hope Gambhir reads this and gets some sense knocked into his 'sleepy' head!

  • rama balasubramanian on December 6, 2012, 9:01 GMT

    Gambhir's mind might have been occupied about what is going on in the Indian parliament on the FDI voting.

  • Ankur Aggarwal on December 6, 2012, 8:25 GMT

    Things You Should Try To Avoid Doing during Office hours....i almost fell from my chair laughing...great stuff Andy.."Monty unleashed a dance that is still being studied and interpreted by the world’s leading choreographers."...ROTFL

  • Vineeth on December 6, 2012, 4:06 GMT

    Brilliant read ..LOLed way too hard.."How Aleem Dar’s hair always looks so lustrous.." :)

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  • Vineeth on December 6, 2012, 4:06 GMT

    Brilliant read ..LOLed way too hard.."How Aleem Dar’s hair always looks so lustrous.." :)

  • Ankur Aggarwal on December 6, 2012, 8:25 GMT

    Things You Should Try To Avoid Doing during Office hours....i almost fell from my chair laughing...great stuff Andy.."Monty unleashed a dance that is still being studied and interpreted by the world’s leading choreographers."...ROTFL

  • rama balasubramanian on December 6, 2012, 9:01 GMT

    Gambhir's mind might have been occupied about what is going on in the Indian parliament on the FDI voting.

  • Indraneel on December 6, 2012, 9:31 GMT

    Always entertaining. Seriously hope Gambhir reads this and gets some sense knocked into his 'sleepy' head!

  • Kashif M Awan on December 6, 2012, 10:07 GMT

    A delight to read as ever, a wonderful piece but a bit too optimistic over Sehwag and too hard over Gambhir!

  • p.vinayagamurthy on December 6, 2012, 10:45 GMT

    The feasibility of a manned space jaunt to Mars very good article sir.

  • Lakshmi Narasimhan on December 6, 2012, 10:55 GMT

    Straight from a Bollywood flick or a South Indian movie

    " Monty unleashed a dance that is still being studied and interpreted by the world’s leading choreographers. "

  • arun prakash on December 6, 2012, 10:58 GMT

    Grt psycho analysis of Gambhir's brain. But how come you missed 'captaincy' ideas or 'i should always be a hero for Kolkatta' thought?

  • DHMTS on December 6, 2012, 12:05 GMT

    Various theories about what Gambhir was thinking about at this moment... Hilarious.. LOL..

  • nirmal on December 6, 2012, 12:17 GMT

    awesome article. I hope gautam reads this and feels ashamed of himself.