Mumbai batting stalwart Amol Muzumdar feels age shouldn’t be a factor for in-form opener to make ODI comeback
Watching Gautam Gambhir milk a trio of international spinners in the quarter-final of the Vijay Hazare Trophy at the Chinnaswamy Stadium here on Sunday, one couldn’t help but wonder if there was a case for the Delhi veteran to be recalled to the Indian ODI side. Not at the top of the order, as the Indian team already have three regular openers, but as a possible No. 4 batsman, the slot that still seems to wide open with less than a year to go for the 2019 ICC World Cup.
Loads of runs
The Delhi captain has notched 490 runs from eight innings thus far with two hundreds and a fifty, at a strike rate of 117.78. But these numbers are not what made one sit up and think. Leggies Amit Mishra, Yuzvendra Chahal and offie Jayant Yadav were the bowlers Gambhir was up against on Sunday, apart from a third leggie in Rahul Tewatia, and all of them were literally toyed with, Chahal in particular. Fifty of Gambhir’s 104 runs in that game came off the spinners, with the left-handed opener consuming a mere 41 balls for it.
With his proven ability to play the pacers and seamers, should Gambhir, who turned 37 on Sunday, be given a go by the national selectors or should the number 37 be held against him as also the fact that the last ODI he figured in was back in January 2013 (he last played a Test in 2016)? Mumbai batting stalwart Amol Muzumdar, who’s now taken on a TV commentator’s role, felt age is but a number.
“If I take my own career as an example, I am of the firm view that age is but a number. For someone to make an entry or comeback to international cricket, there are a number of boxes to be ticked and anyone, who ticks most of those boxes, should be under consideration,” felt Muzumdar. The boxes include fitness and fielding, he stressed. But what about the difference between batting at No. 4 or lower for someone who has almost always opened the innings or at the latest came in at No. 3?
“That’s the tricky part. When you open, you invariably have at least two fielders in the slips, so there are some open spaces to push the ball into for runs. Also, the hard new ball helps you get runs. But at No. 4 or lower, the ball is softer, the field is spread and you have to start afresh,” said Muzumdar.
The Mumbaikar had a suggestion: “If Gautam is on the radar, someone must reach out to him and ask him to start batting in the middle-order. That way it can be judged if he’d be right for a particular position.” Well, the national selectors are here, so one of them could, if they feel Gambhir still has it in him, have a quiet word and maybe the second Vijay Hazare semi-final against Jharkhand on Thursday, could be when he drops down the order in an attempt to make his way back to international cricket.