November 27, 2009

How good is Gambhir?

Why the Indian opener is among the three best young batsmen in Test cricket today
65

Virender Sehwag thinks Gautam Gambhir is the best Indian opener since Sunil Gavaskar. He's wrong, but in a rather pleasant kind of way, because it is not the subject of the statement but its maker who is the current holder of that honour. Sadly, it is not a particularly long list of players who qualify, and really, only Navjot Sidhu and Ravi Shastri can lay claim to the title. Both endured good patches and bad and so a fair assessment should only come after Gambhir has played about 50 matches, but if he continues in the form he is in, or even in relative proximity of it, he should prove Sehwag right. Between them they should be disappointed if they don't emerge as India's finest opening pair ever. The current incumbents are Gavaskar and Chetan Chauhan, a terrific combination, but these two should bat together for much longer.

Gambhir is in the form of his life, 27 Tests having produced eight centuries. It's the kind of start Andrew Strauss had, and indeed, for someone who goes through form swings Strauss has an extraordinary conversion rate of a century every 3.7 Tests (which is identical to Sachin Tendulkar's conversion)! Gambhir currently scores a century every 3.4 Tests and averages almost 57. But it is in the last 16 months, really, that his career has taken off. In 25 innings he has seven centuries and seven half-centuries for an average of 77, and just as strikingly, has only one single-digit score. Followers of Test cricket, and they are still a pretty substantial number, will rub their hands in glee at figures like those.

And yet Gambhir is not one steeped in orthodoxy, or indeed limited by the format he currently excels in. An outstanding CB Series campaign in Australia last year marked him out as someone special, and I have little doubt that if there were to be an IPL auction today, he would be on top of everybody's shortlist. To that extent he is like the good old music director in the movies: not quite the classicist but equally at home with the raga and the remix, the folk song and the peppy dance number. And that is where he is creating a large gap between himself and other new-age cricketers like Rohit Sharma and Suresh Raina, whose infatuation with the short game is limiting their progress in other forms.

Gambhir is creating a large gap between himself and other new-age cricketers like Rohit Sharma and Suresh Raina, whose infatuation with the short game is limiting their progress in other forms

I believe, and this is open to debate, that he is one of three finest young batsmen in world cricket, sandwiched for seniority between two South Africans, AB de Villiers and JP Duminy. De Villiers, in the middle of a pretty decent patch himself, and equally good in each of the three forms, averages 44 from 52 Tests, a number that is bound to go up, and Duminy oozes enough class to suggest that he would be a safe stock to invest in even if he is only six Test matches old.

So what could come in the way of Gambhir? For a start, we don't know how good he can be in Australia and South Africa in Test cricket, two places where India have traditionally struggled. Of his 27 Tests, 17 have been played in India and the rest spread between Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Zimbabwe and New Zealand. You could say he hasn't really been tested by pace and bounce, but you cannot pass an exam unless you have appeared for it. He has 12 months to prepare; indeed, the tour of South Africa will mark the start of a really stern examination for India, with a World Cup at home and away tours of England and Australia. He will be nudging 30 then, no longer able to slip into the "young" category, and that patch could well determine whether he has it in him to enter the portals of the greats.

Sadly, it is unlikely his record will have progressed greatly till then because India are currently a bit allergic to playing Test cricket. When you are in the kind of form Gambhir is in, you want to play as much as possible, and with just three more Tests in the next 10 months, it is a pretty meagre diet he is on. It doesn't help either that India are producing the kind of pitches that can only drive people away from Test cricket. I fear therefore that Gambhir might well be the last major Indian player whose career could be assessed by a Test record. Now that's something to think about.

Harsha Bhogle is a commentator, television presenter and writer

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • andygandhi on November 30, 2009, 12:18 GMT

    @j_boyd I am in aus too, it seems i read news more then u, it's been week since aussie fans have rated michael clarke as an overrated , even Ponting had to issue statement in favour of clarke, well there is just no doubt about clarke's talent, here is the article that discusses how good gambhir is, and he truely deserves such appreciation, and some aussie fellows (not everyone) jump and try to prove the point about their own country man, not fair. This is not the article about gambhir vs clarke, then whats the point to bring clarke in the picture, clarke doesn't open the inning (he did once or twice). some guys talked about indian wickets, if it was such a flat track how come sreesanth got 5 wickets, so please learn to accept the truth...

  • supreethmurthy on November 30, 2009, 6:25 GMT

    Gambhir is truly one of the top 3 batsmen in test cricket today. Purely on the basis of performance in adversity, he ranks no 1. I cant recollect any modern day test batsmen have played the kind of innings he played in Napier. He can play attacking and defensive cricket with equal tenacity and rightly deserves to be the test player of the year. I second Harsha s thought on AB. But JP Duminy has a lot to prove before he can be ranked in the top 3 batsmen category.

  • J_Boyd on November 30, 2009, 1:20 GMT

    Gambhir has done what has been asked of him so far and would deserve a spot in an under 30 World XI. But Duminy? He looks good but what has he done besides a good series in Aus? One century. Hardly ground breaking. The best of the younger generation is surely Graeme Smith, KP (when his brain is turned on) and Michael Clarke. @ andyghandi, mate I don't know where you are but I'm in Aus and Clarke is not considered over rated. He has been our form batsmen for 2 years, avg over 60 for the last 4 years and was superb in Eng this year. Learn to accept the truth. And to anyone who mentions Cook, Boycott's mother is better than him.

  • cnumadhu on November 29, 2009, 23:03 GMT

    BCCI is bent upon killing test cricket for the sake of tamasha cricket like IPL. Ever since this IPL tourney started we hardly played any meaninful amount of test cricket. Having a two month calender for IPL, BCCI has hardly any time for test cricket in India. Cricket fans want to see more of Tendulkars, Dravids, Laxmans perfoming well in tests during the final stage of their carrers and some talented youngsters like Pujara, Raina, Rohit Sharma making a mark in test cricket.

  • ms2geet on November 29, 2009, 16:38 GMT

    The age of Sachin,Dravid,Sourav & Laxman deprived many young talents to show their magic on feild. Even the serious talent of Yuvraj is struggling in test arena due to lack of chances.And now BCCI running after money like anything,organising foolish T20s at any cost.Even the idea of 7 match one day series against aussies was idiotic one.There are lesser cricketers left in BCCI. These bloody politicians are ruining test cricket and talents like Gambhir,Yuvraj & Raina.

  • sunny_gr on November 29, 2009, 16:05 GMT

    Well, as Harsha Bhogle said, it's open to debate as to whether he's amongst the top three young batsman in the world; I don't agree entirely. He's an adept and consistent player for sure, but as many others have mentioned, he's yet to prove himself against sa, australia and england in their own countries. Secondly, I don't consider him at the age of 27-28 to be classified as a young batsman-you'd have to include players like greame smith and michael clarke in the same cathegory then. Even on Duminy I am not so sure, he performed well against aus, but 6 matches are not enough to prove him, as for now I'd consider AB as the best current young batsman, he's performed nearly in all countries and against good opposition.

  • Nipun on November 29, 2009, 15:05 GMT

    Having said my opinion,I must say that Gautam is in unbelievable form since Sri Lanka 2008,& according to me,is one of the most outstanding players of spin.

  • andygandhi on November 29, 2009, 10:12 GMT

    My goodness, Dawsyzero are you sure you can average 50 in indian pitches, well u must have forgotten indian spinners then, u would not even last 1 ball against club class indian spinner.

  • andygandhi on November 29, 2009, 8:42 GMT

    Gambhir deserved appreciation, he's come long way and worked really hard. Those who have commented on his ability to play outside sub-continent, please have a look at his century against quality australian pace attack in VB series 2008. and harsha discussed about his recent contrbution in the team, the fan who tried to prove michael clarke as one of the best, buddy do u know in australia, michael clarke is considered to be one of the most over rated batsman, his form is below average these days. Guys learn to accept the truth.

  • Dodith on November 29, 2009, 6:49 GMT

    Harsha said it rightly! Indian pitches are drving spectators, viewers and players away! When with the BCCI realise this? No one's asking them to fill the calender with Tests, but when you do play a Test, make sure it's on a sporting track, so Indian players are better equipped to play abroad, and so that the outcome of a 5 days game doesn't depend on the toss.

  • andygandhi on November 30, 2009, 12:18 GMT

    @j_boyd I am in aus too, it seems i read news more then u, it's been week since aussie fans have rated michael clarke as an overrated , even Ponting had to issue statement in favour of clarke, well there is just no doubt about clarke's talent, here is the article that discusses how good gambhir is, and he truely deserves such appreciation, and some aussie fellows (not everyone) jump and try to prove the point about their own country man, not fair. This is not the article about gambhir vs clarke, then whats the point to bring clarke in the picture, clarke doesn't open the inning (he did once or twice). some guys talked about indian wickets, if it was such a flat track how come sreesanth got 5 wickets, so please learn to accept the truth...

  • supreethmurthy on November 30, 2009, 6:25 GMT

    Gambhir is truly one of the top 3 batsmen in test cricket today. Purely on the basis of performance in adversity, he ranks no 1. I cant recollect any modern day test batsmen have played the kind of innings he played in Napier. He can play attacking and defensive cricket with equal tenacity and rightly deserves to be the test player of the year. I second Harsha s thought on AB. But JP Duminy has a lot to prove before he can be ranked in the top 3 batsmen category.

  • J_Boyd on November 30, 2009, 1:20 GMT

    Gambhir has done what has been asked of him so far and would deserve a spot in an under 30 World XI. But Duminy? He looks good but what has he done besides a good series in Aus? One century. Hardly ground breaking. The best of the younger generation is surely Graeme Smith, KP (when his brain is turned on) and Michael Clarke. @ andyghandi, mate I don't know where you are but I'm in Aus and Clarke is not considered over rated. He has been our form batsmen for 2 years, avg over 60 for the last 4 years and was superb in Eng this year. Learn to accept the truth. And to anyone who mentions Cook, Boycott's mother is better than him.

  • cnumadhu on November 29, 2009, 23:03 GMT

    BCCI is bent upon killing test cricket for the sake of tamasha cricket like IPL. Ever since this IPL tourney started we hardly played any meaninful amount of test cricket. Having a two month calender for IPL, BCCI has hardly any time for test cricket in India. Cricket fans want to see more of Tendulkars, Dravids, Laxmans perfoming well in tests during the final stage of their carrers and some talented youngsters like Pujara, Raina, Rohit Sharma making a mark in test cricket.

  • ms2geet on November 29, 2009, 16:38 GMT

    The age of Sachin,Dravid,Sourav & Laxman deprived many young talents to show their magic on feild. Even the serious talent of Yuvraj is struggling in test arena due to lack of chances.And now BCCI running after money like anything,organising foolish T20s at any cost.Even the idea of 7 match one day series against aussies was idiotic one.There are lesser cricketers left in BCCI. These bloody politicians are ruining test cricket and talents like Gambhir,Yuvraj & Raina.

  • sunny_gr on November 29, 2009, 16:05 GMT

    Well, as Harsha Bhogle said, it's open to debate as to whether he's amongst the top three young batsman in the world; I don't agree entirely. He's an adept and consistent player for sure, but as many others have mentioned, he's yet to prove himself against sa, australia and england in their own countries. Secondly, I don't consider him at the age of 27-28 to be classified as a young batsman-you'd have to include players like greame smith and michael clarke in the same cathegory then. Even on Duminy I am not so sure, he performed well against aus, but 6 matches are not enough to prove him, as for now I'd consider AB as the best current young batsman, he's performed nearly in all countries and against good opposition.

  • Nipun on November 29, 2009, 15:05 GMT

    Having said my opinion,I must say that Gautam is in unbelievable form since Sri Lanka 2008,& according to me,is one of the most outstanding players of spin.

  • andygandhi on November 29, 2009, 10:12 GMT

    My goodness, Dawsyzero are you sure you can average 50 in indian pitches, well u must have forgotten indian spinners then, u would not even last 1 ball against club class indian spinner.

  • andygandhi on November 29, 2009, 8:42 GMT

    Gambhir deserved appreciation, he's come long way and worked really hard. Those who have commented on his ability to play outside sub-continent, please have a look at his century against quality australian pace attack in VB series 2008. and harsha discussed about his recent contrbution in the team, the fan who tried to prove michael clarke as one of the best, buddy do u know in australia, michael clarke is considered to be one of the most over rated batsman, his form is below average these days. Guys learn to accept the truth.

  • Dodith on November 29, 2009, 6:49 GMT

    Harsha said it rightly! Indian pitches are drving spectators, viewers and players away! When with the BCCI realise this? No one's asking them to fill the calender with Tests, but when you do play a Test, make sure it's on a sporting track, so Indian players are better equipped to play abroad, and so that the outcome of a 5 days game doesn't depend on the toss.

  • DawsyZero on November 28, 2009, 22:40 GMT

    slappinjax, you are 100% right in your post. i could average 50 batting on those indian wickets.

  • Bobby_Talyarkhan on November 28, 2009, 22:15 GMT

    The cricket administrators are failing us. The BCCI is engaged on a monomaniacal mission to obliterate test cricket, drowning it out in a cacophony of advertising jingles, clinking cash tills and the inanities of the PR and marketing crowd. It is time for the cricketers themselves and cricket lovers everywhere to overthrow the plutocratic oligarchies who are destroying one of the finest accomplishments of modernity in its pre-decadent phase. But such a sporting revolution itself presupposes a social revolution - for as that revolutionary giant CLR James wrote - "what do they know of cricket who only cricket know?"

  • aveesachin10 on November 28, 2009, 19:06 GMT

    Well said Harsha........Gambhir is in top form and has certainly played a major role now in supporting the fab four......SACH.....DRAVID.....LUX and well we could argue that it could be VIRU in my opinion now that dada has retired. But gambhir certainly wants to go out there and stamp his authority in test cricket and give him a tag by saying that "catch me if you can".......hopefully gauti can keep his feet on the ground and i feel he wont go in the wrong direction as he has the greats to make sure he stays on the ground. His patience is incredible. Teams fear us as our openers in test cricket hasn't been the best in the past. We had the jaffers and the das etc but gambhir is streets ahead of them. Coming back to our BCCI......its become a big problem here and we need to be given more test matches and not try to keep a hold on the "Big Money Format" that is the "T-20".......But they end up paying a deaf ear to everyone......I just hope that we play more tests....

  • barmyarmy44444 on November 28, 2009, 18:54 GMT

    hes a great opener who has all of the shots and is strong against seam and spin.he knows how to bat according to the situation and is exactly what you want in an opener.

  • abu316 on November 28, 2009, 18:53 GMT

    u have always been the fair guy harsha..but i think its too early to bring duminy into the list.sehwag was supposed to be an ODI specialist but surprisingly he has turned out to be a test match specialist!!so is somewat tcase with gambhir.i believe the reason y these players turned out so good is the fact that they never changed their style of play.in fact virender sehwag once said in an interview to harsha himself when he was asked y better figures in test matches that I DONT UNDERSTAND Y THESE OPPOSITION SIDES KEEP SO MANY FIELDERS CLOSE..I FIND IT VERY EASY TO GO OVER THEM AND BY THE TIME THEY WAIT FOR THE SWING TO STOP TO REMOVE THE CLOSE FIELDERS I WOULD HAVE REACHED AROUND 50!! this is the clarity of thought someone like a yuvraj should have while playing test cricket..

  • Priyank.V on November 28, 2009, 18:50 GMT

    Well said harsha about the number of test matches india is going to played in the following months. But as far as Gambhir's technique is concerned, i m sure he will do well also on fast pitches in down under and south africa. The simple reason why i m saying this is because the way he plays in test matches shows that he is maturing day by day. Now days he prized his wicket far more than what he usually did 2 years ago, that made him more responsible. AB De Villiers is good,so as Duminiy but the consistency shown by gambhir is better than these two, you can check his 2nd innings record. He can definitely be the test openor india is looking for almost a decade. Good luck Gauti!!!

  • peter56 on November 28, 2009, 14:52 GMT

    Harsha great article just a footnote from it :you say India are currently allergic to playing test cricket Heaven help the BCCI if as I suspect this attitude to organizing as few test series as possible eventually results in ponting overtaking sachin definitely in most test centuries and probably in runs scored too I feel that if India were to organize as many test matches as australia over the next 3 years Sachin will not be caught but the BCCI seem determined to score the biggest own goal of all time and make it as easy as possible for Ricky given the current situation regarding test crickets future either Sachin or Ricky may hold these records forever all SRT needs is a level playing field to secure them I feel the general Indian public are not alert to the fact that the stable door is open but when they do realise that the horse has bolted imagine the fury that will be directed against the BCCI Can you do anything to pressure the BCCI.

  • slappinjax on November 28, 2009, 14:50 GMT

    Gambhir is a special talent and India are blessed to have him. However, like all the other Indian batsmen his figures are scewed considerably from batting first on those ridiculous Indian pitches. This is why so many Indian batsmen have great averages yet India wins so little of note. Its no wonder Indian spectators are not keen on test cricket when the result is predictable after the toss of the coin.

  • shang1985 on November 28, 2009, 9:33 GMT

    Harsha, Shewag is wrong when he says Gambhir is the best opener since Gavaskar, because sehwag himself is the best opener in the world today. An average of over 50 at an amazing strike rate of close to 80 over 71 test maches & 11 consecutive centuries over 150 scored around the globe. more importantly he demoralises opposition and can turnaround a test match in a matter of hours. gavaskar was a great player. scoring 14 centuries against the team with the best pace bowlers (WI) is no mean achievement. But sehwag is unique. i watch test matches played by india majorly becuse of sehwag. probably he is the best entertainer after Sir Viv richards.

  • Chandrurec5 on November 28, 2009, 8:42 GMT

    Gambhir is just an average cricketer who has got numbers in his side at present. Look at the way his off stump goes for a walk every now and then one can understand what good he is. Scoring centuries in these Test Matches where even if the ball hits the middle of the pitch it does not get above the knee roll, or in a match where Jessy Ryder did opening bowling do not count. If he is going to bat and score a century I will better switch off the Television and read the scores in newspaper ( It is not appealing to the eyes). But one can always look at a Rohit Sharma or Suresh Raina.

  • R_U_4_REAL_NICK on November 28, 2009, 7:07 GMT

    Oh here we go... it's like Ishant Sharma all over again: too early in his career after only a few successful games, you people were hyping him up as the best fast opening bowler in the world. Where is all that talk now and more-to-the-point, where is he now? My point is, like most other people have pointed out, is why don't you at least wait until players have had a string of several great performances over several years (not months!) in all the different continents and conditions of the world? I wonder how many centuries Gambhir will score in South Africa against the likes of a fired-up Dale Steyn and the young Parnell... I wonder if you'll still write articles like this after several tours to Australia and their much more interesting pitches...

  • coppyshoppy on November 28, 2009, 6:03 GMT

    Its easy to say that Gambir should play at australia or south africa or england. pls note that now recent time all indian batsman plays well in australia and england. at the time you people say that the pitch is changed in the areas. pls give due respect to these players. all we know that how our old players played test cricket. they are talented, no dout but the level of playing has much improved now with these guys.

  • Hiteshdevilliers on November 28, 2009, 0:51 GMT

    I'm sorry to say, but it's just a bit early to judge Gautam Gambhir as being one of the greatest Indian openers yet. He has played wonderfully well over the last one year, credit can't be taken away there, but he has had it easier than not only Gavaskar, but also AB De Villiers, who happens to be my cricketing idol. The two centuries against AUS came against a weak attack on flat pitches. The two he scored in NZ were again on fkat tracks against a modest attack, barring Vettori. As other have said, once he plays on more testing tracks, will his true caliber be known. Now, I am not old enough to know about Gavaskar, but AB De Villiers is clearly the best young player in cricket at the moment. He has played 52 consecutive tests, with success on challenging tracks around the world. In fact, his stats are much better outside SA. He has scored centuries in places such as Ahmedabad, Headingley, and Perth in match winning efforts. That is when you know you have produced a world class player.

  • Sach_is_Life on November 27, 2009, 22:42 GMT

    Contd...I'm not saying that Ganbhir is best batsmen or better than all the youngsters..Infact i'm not a big fan of him..but you've to respect the fact that he's exceptional in ALL forms o the gae 4 last 2 years and his 2nd innings avg in Test matches prove that he'z certainly got the temperment to become one of the best if not the best..Just like how we can't argue that Ponting is not one of the best batsmen just bcaz he didn't face McGrath and Warney which is not his his fault ..you can;t say that gambhir is one of the best prospect just bcaz he didn't prove himself in AUS,SA,Eng(which he did proved in whatever chances he got like in ODIs n T20s).So,Its not the Indian fans and the cricinfo writers has to change but unfortunately..Its you guys..who has to change their mindsets...You cant ignore a batsmen who scored 7 100s in 9 testmatches just bcaz he's an INDIAN.And About your One-Eyed Indian Cricket fans comment..I don't think you are any better...

  • Sach_is_Life on November 27, 2009, 22:32 GMT

    @TheHooker..Gambhir is in form o his life and scored 7 hundreds from 9 Test Matches agnst diff oppositions and he did well in other versions of the game in Aus and SA.Its not his fault that he didn't get a chance to play in Aus,Eng and SA.Just bcaz he did a chance and proved himselfl in NZ,NZ pitches won't become flat tracks.I know If he didn't do well there then you would've said that see..he didn't do well in NZ's lively pitches blah blah blah..BTW,why dont you consider the fact that he's the best batsmen for both sides in NZ?is it not some achievement?and why dont you consider his runs scored in Srilanka when all other Indian Stars are struggling?BTW,If you think that Gambhir didn't prove himself in Aus,Eng,SA then wat abt Ponting.When we say Ponting didn't prove himself agnst any of his generation's TOP bowlers lke McGrath,Warne ..then why dont you agree..?Why 2 different scales for Indains and NON Indians?

  • arup_g on November 27, 2009, 21:02 GMT

    Great article Harsha! I will agree with you on the discussion and anyone arguing the point would be silly. Gambhir has become very quickly a linchpin of the Indian top order, as you can never rely on Sehwag, and before Dravids uplift of form, Gambhir was the sole batsman we could rely on. Even in the middle order, Sachin has his moments, VVS is only top notch when he decides to move his feet, and Yuvraj is sometimes in one day mode too often. So in my opinion Gambhir has proven he has the patience (two great centuries to save test matches against NZ and SL) and aggression when needed, and the added fact he is a left hander and a good fielder too.

  • afridi102 on November 27, 2009, 20:47 GMT

    hmmm, harsha to say true, i was also amazed with the man consistency and recent form... hehas a superb averages, a lot of centuries... and then come the BUT i looked into his reords more specifically.... harsha of ghambir 8 centurires, 6 has come in big sorig DRW matches,only 2 in ressult matches, his average comes down to 37 (beforthe 2nd test agaisnt sri laka) in result matches... plus he is yet to play against quality bowling... So i think ghambie should perform more in difficult situations, and not just in draws, even this century was when the pitch was a belter... But he still looks good, too eraly to say he is in the three best... And also harsha, where is kvin piterssen??? He is surely the BEST batsmen of the recent batsmen, he is just amazing, he is as far sperior than the other, that lara was.. i think they have the same kin of dominations over the bowling side...

  • ILoveTestCricket on November 27, 2009, 18:09 GMT

    BCCI (& also ICC) should not think of "only" money and serve Cricket in larger interest by playing more "Test Cricket". T20 is getting pretty predictable these days and one can't recall a single performance in those games within a week's time(exceptions like Yuvi's 6 sixers). Test cricket is still a real game of Cricket with fair chance for both teams to bounce back at any moment(who would have imagined India winning in that famous Kolkatta test when they had lost 4 cheap wickets after follow-on) and that's the beauty. In T20 format anyone with ordinary cricket skills can look like performing if he hits his luck in an over or two but same person will be exposed in longer version. Long live "Test Cricket"!!

  • TrueCricFan on November 27, 2009, 17:40 GMT

    continued... But he has a long way to go to even beat Sehwag as India's most successful opener in recent times. And ya, I think he will not even get a chance to prove how close he could get to Gavaskar (let alone the comparision of different ages, with so little test cricket coming up, even people will get very little data to do all those hypothetical comparisions).

  • TrueCricFan on November 27, 2009, 17:37 GMT

    Harsha, we always like your articles and unbias. I agree with "apyboutit". Why do players performing in sub-continent pitches not any good compared to any other players outside. If Gauti has an edge of the tracks here, so do Devilliers and Duminy since they have been brought playing on the South African pitches. Though AB has some good performances in subcontinent, he has not proven completely that he can excel in these conditions and tackle the spin attack. Likewise Gauti is yet to play in Aus, Eng and SA but he has had a fabulous series in NZ. It will be unfair if his performances in subcontinent are not given the due credit. He is definitely amongst the "top three NEW prospects" in international cricket. But he has a long way to go to even beat Sehwag as India's most successful opener in recent times. And ya, I think he will not even get a chance to prove how close he could get to Gavaskar (let alone the comparision of different ages, with so little test cricket coming up, even pe

  • Rakesh107 on November 27, 2009, 17:14 GMT

    Harsha, I think the point you raise about India being allergic to Test cricket is a very important and valid one. India is supposed to be a cricket loving nation so why is it shunning the premier form of the game? BCCI's greed? Something needs to be done, the future Dravids, Gambhirs & Tendulkars will be lost to money spinning limited overs games... Why simply add a paragraph in your article and state 'Now that's something to think about'? Why not actually do something about - people like yourself and other prominent figures in Indian cricket/media need to make more noise about the fact the Indian's don't play enough Test cricket. Use your position to make a difference and safeguard Indian cricket from becoming popcorn cricket..

  • Alexk400 on November 27, 2009, 16:47 GMT

    His worth only proven when sehwag is not opening with him. Sehwag takes so much pressure out of his partner with fast run scorings , all you have to do is dibbly dabs.

    That said gambhir shows that he can apply himself and not try mimic sehwag shot by shot. So he created his own comfort zone.

    He can be good as long as sehwag is on the other side. After that pressure builds. I still think Gambhir can be great. He needs to copy Rahul dravid immovable object. Because once dravid is gone , all current young players are useless. All try to play like sehwag and gets out cheaply.

    We really do not have promising young batsman in pipeline. Rohit sharma, kohli and raine are usless. Not dependable. Fast 30s 40s is not good enough at international level.

  • Sidhanta-Patnaik on November 27, 2009, 16:32 GMT

    I fear therefore that Gambhir might well be the last major Indian player whose career could be assessed by a Test record. Now that's something to think about. - AGREED

  • BellCurve on November 27, 2009, 16:30 GMT

    In the history of the game there are only seven batsmen who have scored more runs at a higher average. They are Sir Donald Bradman, Herbert Sutcliffe, Ken Barrington, Sir Everton Weekes, Wally Hammond, Sir Garfield Sobers and Sir Jack Hobbs. That is pretty amazing company to be in. BUT Gambhir has never toured SA, Australia or England. AND about 15% of his runs came against Bangladesh and Zimbabwe. SO he still has a lot to prove. Let's hope the BCCI schedule enough Test matches in the next 10 years to allow him to prove his mettle and join the ranks of the game's all-time greats.

  • yash003 on November 27, 2009, 16:06 GMT

    There are only few players that can play in all formats of the game effectively. Gambhir is one of the best in those few.First thing i like about him is his style. His batting is such a visual treat to watch.I think after Dravid Gambhir is the one on whom India can totally depend upon.Cheers for his patience and concentration.India can depend on him in any format of the game.Whenever he was there in the middle we can totally assure the victory .Truley he was the biggest asset in the present Indian team.After a long gap Team India finally got a best Opener and partner for Sehwag.

  • NewYorkCricket on November 27, 2009, 16:03 GMT

    Gautam Gambhir is pure talent and he will play very well for India in all formats for a long time. Eventually he will be in the category of all time greats for India.

  • Godof86 on November 27, 2009, 16:02 GMT

    Well, AB has had only one mammoth innings in the low-slow subcontinental tracks. Nothing much apart from that. The best young batsman in today's cricket is Michael Clark of course. Alastair Cook should come in as one of the best test batsmen as well, the last wretched Ashes performance notwithstanding.

  • sanges on November 27, 2009, 15:59 GMT

    To all those who have commented here, especially @TheHooker, Harsha has clearly said Gambhir needs to be tested in Aus, SA and England. He is not claiming today that Gambhir is the greatest. Words like 'should', 'could', 'may', 'don't know' , 'open to debate' actually mean something. Read the article carefully and understand before you post comments like 'let's not judge him based on his innings in the sub-continent', 'painful for indian fans, etc'....b'cos that is EXACTLY what the author is saying as well.

  • henchart on November 27, 2009, 15:56 GMT

    5 Best openers over the past 35 odd years are Gavaskar,Greenidge,Hayden,Taylor Mark and Sehwag.Gambhir is good but yet to be tested on green tops.

  • vissu295 on November 27, 2009, 14:51 GMT

    @TheHooker, No need to pass your judgement on Indian fans. English fans are much worse in hyping up their players, just after a few good innings. Here, we are talking about a guy who got the TEST PLAYER of the YEAR award for 2008. The chances for him succeeding in Aus,SA is much higher than the opposite. He already proved it in the 2007WC in SA and CB series in Aus, although they aren't test matches. Many Indians did comment here that he still needs to prove outside the subcontinent in the tests.

  • paramthegreat on November 27, 2009, 13:52 GMT

    lets not judge him on the basis of his innings in subcontinents. If he does that against Eng, sa , aus in their home countries(which i doubt he will) then yes the above statements will all be true. Having said that, he is in the form of his life and the longer he continues with this sorta golden form , the better it is for our team's chances:)). Go gambhir and India:)

  • Nipun on November 27, 2009, 13:43 GMT

    I am sorry,but neither JP nor Gautam Gambhir are anywhere close to being the best young cricketer of the world.AB is the sole winner here.JP did play well in Australia in his debut series,but failed in the return series,& Gambhir has not played any test cricket in Australia,South Africa,& England.Yes,that's not his fault that he couldn't appear in this exam,but the fact remains that he hasn't passed in this exam,for whose fault is another matter altogether.

  • Jose on November 27, 2009, 12:45 GMT

    Excellent & timely article. No doubt that Gautam Gambhir is a best find of this decade after Sehwag. I am sure he will succeed on pitches abroad as he has already proven himself in short format of the game. It is Yuvraj who has to prove his ability on foreign pitches who still struggles to handle swinging ball and especially spin. The real test for Indian team comes after Sachin, Dravid & Laxman retires, since India failed to find a suitable replacement. As Harsha pointed out, youngsters are more infatuated with 20-20 and not bothering about Tests. It is bit scary to imagine Indian test cricket after 6-7 years.

  • TheHooker on November 27, 2009, 12:36 GMT

    Harsha, he's only really scored runs outside the sub-continent in New Zealand. Without being disrespectful, New Zealand is not the terror for batsmen it once was and they have a limited pace attack. I know it's really painful for Indian fans to have someone talk against one of the their players (you're the vocal majority, so it sometimes becomes a love-in) but sometimes you act in isolation. When we've seen him jumping around on a fast track at Perth to Brett Lee, coping with early-morning seam at an overcast Headingley, combatting a spiteful, up and down turner at Old Trafford, or a seaming minefield in South Africa, then you can lapse into hyperbole as much as you want. Just remember this is an international website and some of us are not as one-eyed as Indian cricket fans. I'm not saying anyone from England IS any better, just wait until he is properly tested when it matters before making such unequivocal declarations. That said, it's nicely written. Just thin on substance

  • Smurfatefrog on November 27, 2009, 12:09 GMT

    Exactly as others have said, he has only played 5 tests out of the sub-continent & 2 of those were against Zimbabwe. Lets judge him once he has played in SA, Aus & Eng

  • sachkaan on November 27, 2009, 11:30 GMT

    in my view....the best young players are devilliers, clarke and gambhir

  • Go_F.Alonso on November 27, 2009, 11:04 GMT

    @sachintha81, The statement "Gautam Gambhir is the best Indian opener since Sunil Gavaskar" compares Gauti with all the Indian openers "SINCE" Gavaskar and not with the man. Viru is spot on when he rules himself out - as has been pointed out in this article.

    @redneck, I agree with you on the real test i.e., when Sachin, Dravid & Lax move on.

    Others who could make the 'best young batsmen' cut are Graeme Smith and Michael Clarke, both along with Gauti are just over 28yrs. Anymore? I'd like to know.

  • AMAR420 on November 27, 2009, 11:01 GMT

    Gambhir no doubt a good player, a technically sound player but in my opinion he is used to of playing in India otherwise on the pitches like West Indies, Australia, Newzealand, South Africa (I mean fast pitches) He is not as strong as he is in India. If he played in the reign of Wasim Waqar Marshall, Ambrose Courtney Walsh, Hadlee Lillee, Botham, Imran then We'll see... How ever there is no genuin fast bowlers in the recent time & All the rules are against the fast bowlers like Free Hits, 2 Bouncers per over, un-even field placements, Power plays in recent times the younger players are reluctant to be a bowler, the bowlers want to be an all-rounder to keep their place in the team. Summed up that the conditions are very much suitable for the batsmen now a days. Whereas GAVASKAR scored runs in the times when the Bowlers were a symbol of nightmare

  • Percy_Fender on November 27, 2009, 10:52 GMT

    Gautam Gambhir is certainly one of the best young batsmen in the world today. He has a fair range of strokes, is a long innings player, has a sound defence,has the ability to play pace or spin with ease and above all has the temperament and cricketting intelligence. Add to that his ability to give back verbally makes him a tough package on all scores. That apart he showed in leading Delhi to win in the Ranji Trophy two things which may have a bearing for the future. Firstly, his game does not diminish with captaincy and secondly has the right amount of luck, that is so essential for a captain.Barring the CB series he has not played in Australia. Nor has he played in South Africa. But considering that he has a limited backlift, is gutsy and has a good defence apart from being a good backfoot player I have no doubt that he will do well there when the opportunity comes along.It is premature to talk of him in the same breath as Gavaskar though. There is a lot of difference between the two.

  • Agey on November 27, 2009, 10:47 GMT

    Good article. Gambhir is a fine prospect although I think he still has to prove himself away from the sub-continent. It's fair to call him among the three best young batsmen in the world but putting Gambhir alongside Duminy is a bit of a stretch. The man has only played 6 Tests, it's a little pre-mature. Michael Clarke should be there instead. At 28 years of age he has an average of 50 and has scored centuries around the globe.

  • apyboutit on November 27, 2009, 10:35 GMT

    Generally speaking - Why is a guy who is fantastic on subcontinental wickets, not good enough? Why is someone who has a better record abroad, automatically the better one? Credit each one with what they are good at. Then the team benefits. The former will win matches for India at home and the latter abroad. If few guys can do it at both places, and on moon and mars, so be it. Respect them for that. Otherwise, it is like having one single question paper for Math, Sci, Geo, Hist, Engl, etc. all put together. Common, let us grow up. We want the Players to match the Ozs. Let us first match the Oz media. During WI-Oz match today, I heard Bill Lawry appreciate the 35 yrs of service rendered by one of the ground staff. It was soo pleasing to the ears. How many of us know to credit a service for what it is worth? at the right stage? We carry an English attitude towards events. Always eager to create/find a place for anything that meets the senses to belong to! That is ordinary. Let's grow.

  • apyboutit on November 27, 2009, 9:54 GMT

    Dear, dear! Harsha, look what you have done! ... addressed a hypothetical situation, which cannot be addressed for the next 10 months, at least, but for (even in spite of) an act of the "ICC/BCCI". It is like when my grand mom blesses nursery kids - "pass your 12th std quickly". Poor Gauti is in the boil as a result. Let us simply say that He has been fantastic, like Sidhu in his "form years" in India. Right now, his career is too short for comparisons or evaluation. So, let us just leave him at that. No point comparing anyone to Sunny (try standing 5 feet away from stumps with complete protection - when Marshall bowls to you!) or Sehwag, or anyone! This is an Indian sickness that we need to shed. Evaluate something to its merit and "Leave" it at that. He is like that fellow; better than that fellow; could have been this fellow; etc. ... none of these arguments ever did any good to anyone. Here's a point to ponder - what next for test cricket (ok, ... Lets start with "In India").

  • Capitalist_Cricketer on November 27, 2009, 9:42 GMT

    I am taking a gamble when i say this but for me Gauti has been the find of the decade for Indian Cricket. No one has excelled in all forms of the game as yet for India. He can easily drop anchor in classical way like Dravid and Laxman and when required play unorthodox aggresive shots like Yuvraj or the old Ganguly. The news that he wont play the third test match for India against SL scares me as that means changing the Indian line up again. I hope for a series win for India as being no 1 in Test Rankings is a dream come true for me after 33 years. Accept a bow BCCI for the cricket infrastructure and platform created for the Indian players to perform to their maximum.

  • sathish4 on November 27, 2009, 8:59 GMT

    If you're going to count Gambhir as one of the younger players of international cricket at 28(which you have every right to be, since batsmen seem to play on till 35 on average in this sport), surely Michael Clarke should be on top of the list of best players around in that particular generation? He's 28, as well.

    If we're going purely on experience and ignoring the established player(the likes of Sachin, Ponting, etc).. I'd say a second tier would consist of Gambhir, Clarke, Smith, Duminy, De Villiers, Amla, North(going out on a limb here, but he looks a class, class act), Pietersen.. with some more equal than the others(Pietersen, Clarke, Smith).

    It's sad that we(India) are represented poorly in this category. The likes of Rohit, Yuvraj have the talent, but the temperament is just not there.

  • Herbet on November 27, 2009, 8:33 GMT

    I think pretty soon you will have to say he is one of the top 4 young batsmen in the world because Umar Akmal looks pretty special. But really, de Villiers and Gambhir are both too old to be classed as young batsmen anyway. As you say the acid test will be after he has played South Africa, Australia and England away. That will determine if he will go down as another sub-continental flat track bully, like Jayawardena, or a genuinly class act, like Dravid, Tendulkar, Mohammed Youssuf and Gavaskar.

  • PrameshP on November 27, 2009, 7:04 GMT

    Yes, harsha you are wright.

  • HLANGL on November 27, 2009, 6:46 GMT

    The best young batsman to represent India in recent times, certainly the most balanced batsman to emerge after Rahul Dravid. Equally effective in all foramts of the game unlike someone like Youvraj Singh who's more consistent in the shorter versions & only enjoys a moderate record in the longer version. The statement "one of the three best young batsmen in Test cricket" is NOT exaggerating, if you kept a close eye on this player recent times. I assume he can still be called youngster as he is relatively inexperienced yet eventhough he's over 28 now. Agewise, he may not be the youngest of the lot, but you got to consider his experience as well.

  • haroon84 on November 27, 2009, 6:35 GMT

    Well first, when analyzing any batsmen from the sub-continent you should look at how they have performed outside the sub-continent, as we have already seen in the Inda-SL series the pitches can be pretty easy to get big runs on and inflate your averages.

    So here is his away test record so far: http://stats.cricinfo.com/ci/engine/player/28763.html?class=1;home_or_away=2;template=results;type=allround

    Only ten matches overseas, and only five outside the subcontinent...2 of those 5 are against Zimbabwe, that just leaves the three against New Zealand, now New Zealand can be a good place for seamers (better than India at least), but New Zealand pace attack is not exactly the best in the world.

    So before calling him the best since Gavaskar or one of the 'three finest young batsmen in world cricket', maybe we should wait to see what he has to offer when he plays against the like of Australia, South Africa, (even England) in their home grounds, on pitches which are not as flat as pancakes.

  • ArifAttar on November 27, 2009, 5:36 GMT

    Jaffer, on the other hand, has played only 11 of his 31 Tests at home. He has been asked to open in the West Indies, SA, Australia, England. If only you could take off your blinkers Mr. Bhogle.

  • prabwal on November 27, 2009, 3:55 GMT

    Very well written Harsha....''Gambhir might well be the last major Indian player whose career could be assessed by a Test record...'' that's true.The way the administrators are treating test cricket in India is really pathetic. India should play at least 10 tests per year. Regarding the best openers India have produced I agree with u beyond any doubt (SM and Sehwag)....

  • yaseenk2002 on November 27, 2009, 3:47 GMT

    I agree with you Harsha about BCCI being allergic to Test cricket! BCCI is currently too engrossed with IPL and TV deals and sponsors and what not. Holding Tests matches comes last in their priority list. This is sad for Indian cricket fans, who have been misinterpreted as ones who hate Test matches!! Sure they love T20 but its a passing fad and over-kill is surely going to reduce the interest! BCCI has to take the entire blame with what is happening with Test cricket in India. With just 6 Tests this year...and only 2 Tests after that in next 10 months..

  • Sach.S on November 27, 2009, 3:24 GMT

    Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on the way you look at it), both Harsha and Sehwag are wrong. Unlike today when more than 75% of all pitches are batsmen friendly and bowling attacks all over the world are not good, Gavaskar played in difficult times. In those days pitches were more fair, and he faced some of the best bowling attacks including Windies. And he did well both home and away. Of course it's not Gambir's fault, but he didn't even face Aussies in their full strength - perhaps the most potent attack of recent times. It's a no comparison really. Gavaskar was better.

  • Farce-Follower on November 27, 2009, 3:22 GMT

    Absolutely true, Harsha. Perhaps, Sachin and Rahul will be the last Indians to create any sort of decent Test record for India. With Test cricket out of its way in India (but not Eng, SA and Australia), even the most talented Indian of the future will find it difficult to breach 10000 runs or 400 wickets. And who even cares about records in ODIs or T20s or IPL. They are meaningless.

  • Udendra on November 27, 2009, 3:13 GMT

    The statement 'one of the three best young batsmen in Test cricket' is exaggerating. Of what I've seen, he doesn't play the short ball very well, and needs to be tested in conditions hostile to batsmen. In the sub-continent of course he is at more ease and scores very well.

  • redneck on November 27, 2009, 3:10 GMT

    hes definatly impressed in his first few years of international cricket. i remember watching his maiden test century on tv against australia, very impressive. i also like the aggression he shows, hes got that killer instinct that indian players arent always known for. however i think his real test is yet to come, that would be when tendulker, dravid, & laxman retire. how he goes about being the lynchpin in the indian bating lineup when the time comes. this will be how his career at the end will be judged.

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  • redneck on November 27, 2009, 3:10 GMT

    hes definatly impressed in his first few years of international cricket. i remember watching his maiden test century on tv against australia, very impressive. i also like the aggression he shows, hes got that killer instinct that indian players arent always known for. however i think his real test is yet to come, that would be when tendulker, dravid, & laxman retire. how he goes about being the lynchpin in the indian bating lineup when the time comes. this will be how his career at the end will be judged.

  • Udendra on November 27, 2009, 3:13 GMT

    The statement 'one of the three best young batsmen in Test cricket' is exaggerating. Of what I've seen, he doesn't play the short ball very well, and needs to be tested in conditions hostile to batsmen. In the sub-continent of course he is at more ease and scores very well.

  • Farce-Follower on November 27, 2009, 3:22 GMT

    Absolutely true, Harsha. Perhaps, Sachin and Rahul will be the last Indians to create any sort of decent Test record for India. With Test cricket out of its way in India (but not Eng, SA and Australia), even the most talented Indian of the future will find it difficult to breach 10000 runs or 400 wickets. And who even cares about records in ODIs or T20s or IPL. They are meaningless.

  • Sach.S on November 27, 2009, 3:24 GMT

    Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on the way you look at it), both Harsha and Sehwag are wrong. Unlike today when more than 75% of all pitches are batsmen friendly and bowling attacks all over the world are not good, Gavaskar played in difficult times. In those days pitches were more fair, and he faced some of the best bowling attacks including Windies. And he did well both home and away. Of course it's not Gambir's fault, but he didn't even face Aussies in their full strength - perhaps the most potent attack of recent times. It's a no comparison really. Gavaskar was better.

  • yaseenk2002 on November 27, 2009, 3:47 GMT

    I agree with you Harsha about BCCI being allergic to Test cricket! BCCI is currently too engrossed with IPL and TV deals and sponsors and what not. Holding Tests matches comes last in their priority list. This is sad for Indian cricket fans, who have been misinterpreted as ones who hate Test matches!! Sure they love T20 but its a passing fad and over-kill is surely going to reduce the interest! BCCI has to take the entire blame with what is happening with Test cricket in India. With just 6 Tests this year...and only 2 Tests after that in next 10 months..

  • prabwal on November 27, 2009, 3:55 GMT

    Very well written Harsha....''Gambhir might well be the last major Indian player whose career could be assessed by a Test record...'' that's true.The way the administrators are treating test cricket in India is really pathetic. India should play at least 10 tests per year. Regarding the best openers India have produced I agree with u beyond any doubt (SM and Sehwag)....

  • ArifAttar on November 27, 2009, 5:36 GMT

    Jaffer, on the other hand, has played only 11 of his 31 Tests at home. He has been asked to open in the West Indies, SA, Australia, England. If only you could take off your blinkers Mr. Bhogle.

  • haroon84 on November 27, 2009, 6:35 GMT

    Well first, when analyzing any batsmen from the sub-continent you should look at how they have performed outside the sub-continent, as we have already seen in the Inda-SL series the pitches can be pretty easy to get big runs on and inflate your averages.

    So here is his away test record so far: http://stats.cricinfo.com/ci/engine/player/28763.html?class=1;home_or_away=2;template=results;type=allround

    Only ten matches overseas, and only five outside the subcontinent...2 of those 5 are against Zimbabwe, that just leaves the three against New Zealand, now New Zealand can be a good place for seamers (better than India at least), but New Zealand pace attack is not exactly the best in the world.

    So before calling him the best since Gavaskar or one of the 'three finest young batsmen in world cricket', maybe we should wait to see what he has to offer when he plays against the like of Australia, South Africa, (even England) in their home grounds, on pitches which are not as flat as pancakes.

  • HLANGL on November 27, 2009, 6:46 GMT

    The best young batsman to represent India in recent times, certainly the most balanced batsman to emerge after Rahul Dravid. Equally effective in all foramts of the game unlike someone like Youvraj Singh who's more consistent in the shorter versions & only enjoys a moderate record in the longer version. The statement "one of the three best young batsmen in Test cricket" is NOT exaggerating, if you kept a close eye on this player recent times. I assume he can still be called youngster as he is relatively inexperienced yet eventhough he's over 28 now. Agewise, he may not be the youngest of the lot, but you got to consider his experience as well.

  • PrameshP on November 27, 2009, 7:04 GMT

    Yes, harsha you are wright.