“We still average 53 as an opening pair, which I think is one of the best when it comes to opening the batting in world cricket,” an irate Gautam Gambhir told PTI. “There are not many opening pairs who have played for such a long time and have an average of 53 per innings. And if 53 is not good enough, I don’t know what is good enough.
“As an opening pair, you average 50 per inning and if you are giving 50 runs start in every innings, you can’t do more and if people talk about not contributing, I will suggest them to look at the stats.”
Look at the numbers.
That’s the last thing you expect a sportsman to say when he is doing well. If you ask Cristiano Ronaldo whether he is the best player in the world, he won’t start making you count the number of goals he has scored or the assists that he manages in each game — he’ll simply tell you to watch him play.
That is how it should be. Often players can start worrying too much about the numbers and that can have an adverse effect on their game. Does it matter whether a player averages 40 or 50 as long as he can do the job; as long as he can get his team to victory.
But Gambhir wants us to look at numbers. So that’s what we’ll do.
In his last 38 innings (including one not out), he has no centuries and only eight 50s. He has scored 1010 runs in 37 dismissals at 27.29 in his last 21 Tests. World’s best? We beg to differ. Gambhir’s average has fallen from 57.50 to 44.35 in this time.
Gambhir’s partner, Sehwag has been in trouble as well. He has scored 756 runs in his last 26 Tests at an average of 29.08. He also hasn’t managed to hit a century, got six fifties and four ducks. Sehwag’s average has fallen from 54.71 to 50.64.
That’s a total of 1766 runs in 63 innings at 28.03. Now Gambhir… look at the numbers again… is that really great?
The reason everyone is talking about the Gambhir-Sehwag partnership has nothing to do with how they performed in the past. We all realise that the duo formed one of the best opening pairs the world has ever seen — 81 Tests, 4110 runs, 10 century stands, 24 50-run stands. Great stuff.
Only four pairs have managed a longer stint as an opening partnership — Gordon Greenidge-Desmond Haynes, Matthew Hayden-Justin Langer, Alastair Cook-Andrew Strauss, Marvan Atapattu-Sanath Jayasuriya. That’s how good Sehwag and Gambhir have been for India.
But at this point, one has to wonder whether they are past their prime as a partnership. Has the internal politics robbed them of their focus?
At their best, Gambhir and Sehwag are no-nonsense characters with a burning desire for victory. Now, Gambhir at least, needs to hope that some hopefully inflated figures can come to his rescue. It’s rather foolish.
It’s almost like Michael Schumacher responding to questions about his failure to win in his comeback by saying that he won seven championships in his prime. Gambhir needs to realise that his past is not being questioned, his present and his future is.
So Gambhir, it’s not about the numbers. It’s about winning and if you can do that, no one will talk about the numbers, not even you.