Former chief selector Sandeep Patil has revealed Gautam Gambhir ended friendship with him after his selection-panel dropped the southpaw from the Indian team on the back of some poor peformances.
Gambhir was one of the most sought after players in the world in the second half of the last decade. He was an integral part of the team across all the three formats and was also one of the batting mainstays. Gambhir was the top-scorer when India beat Pakistan in the final of the inaugural World T20. The southpaw was looking destined to create his own legacy in the game. His reputation was further enhanced after his starring performance in the 2011 World Cup.
After India lost both their openers cheaply in a pressure chase, Gambhir steadied the ship and laid the foundation for a historic chase. He was India’s top-scorer in that game, amassing 97 runs as the Men in Blue registered a historic triumph over Sri Lanka. Gambhir became the darling of this cricket-obsessed nation. Things, however, took a turn for the worse very soon. The Delhi-born star lost his form and soon found himself out of the team.
With his form showing no signs of improvement, the selectors brought in Shikhar Dhawan which all but shut the doors of the Indian team for Gambhir. Dhawan started his Test career with a historic knock of 187 and went on to star for India in the Champions Trophy in 2013. It pretty much cemented his place in the side. Murali Vijay also started doing well and Gambhir soon found himself lost from the scene.
Since then, he has got chances in bits and parts but has not quite managed to deliver as per his reputation. And it seems, he did not take his axing from the national team in a sporting way.
Writing for Quint, Patil revealed how his relationship with Gambhir hit the rock-bottom after the latter was dropped. The former India allrounder also spoke about Gambhir’s attitude problem which played a big part in his axing.
“The year was 2004. An India A team was selected for the England series and the conditioning camp was planned in Bangalore’s NCA,” he wrote.
“Gambhir graduated to play for India after that tour, but the opening slot was never a cakewalk, as he had to compete with the likes of Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly. But Gambhir went on to make the opening slot his own – with his hard work and performance.
He was one of the guys who used to think cricket all the time. My relations with Gambhir became stronger; we used to discuss his performance whenever we met and sometimes, even on the phone,” he added.
He further explained how things soured between him and Gambhir.
I would observe a glow on Gambhir’s face as he climbed the stairs of success in his career. Our friendship continued for the next 7-8 years and everything was going well in his career. But suddenly, he was dropped from the Indian team and the main reason behind it was his ever growing so-called ‘attitude problem’,” he mentioned.
“I can easily say that it was because of his so-called attitude that he made it to the Indian team, but the very same so-called attitude was also the reason that he got dropped from the team. It was due to his ‘angry young man’ attitude that I nicknamed him the Amitabh Bachchan of Indian cricket.
“I firmly believe that every cricketer has some kind of an attitude problem; but if a player shows the same to his own teammates, then it can have a negative impact. Unfortunately, this way I have lost some good friends. But for me, Indian cricket team and Indian cricket’s future was always the priority,” added Patil.
Patil went on to say that Gambhir’s decision to leave the team midway during the England tour because of not-so serious injury was a big blow for his career.
“Gambhir was the leading choice for the Indian team in all three formats till the 2011 England tour. His stature was ever-growing, prior to that series; and he even led the side against New Zealand in the absence of MS Dhoni in a 5 ODI series.
“During the England series of 2011 though, Gambhir was hit in the head with a bouncer and decided to return to India. That mistake cost him dear.
“I used to be the Director of the NCA during that period. I was in shock when I saw the reports of the physio and the doctors, who confirmed that his injury was not serious at all, and he could have continued in that series,” he wrote. “Only a player knows how serious his injury is; but in my view, he lost the chance to become a legend of Indian cricket.”
Patil also revealed that things have still not improved between him and Gambhir.
“That was the time Gambhir decided to end our friendship. I understand his feelings and took it in the right spirit. I did not take it personally. He hardly smiled whenever we met and he seems angry with me even today. When it comes to selecting a player for India, friendship or emotions don’t work. The interest of the country always comes first – survival of the fittest. Even the king of jungle has to surrender his territory one day,” wrote Patil.