By Lokendra Pratap Sahi
Pune (The Telegraph): Gautam Gambhir, India’s senior pro and captain of the Kolkata Knight Riders, spoke to The Telegraph for at least half-an-hour at the Marriott on Friday afternoon. Often, he was passionate while making a point.
The following are excerpts
Q You keep saying that a captain is only as good as his team, but you’ve got to take some credit, at least, for the way you’ve been leading the Knights...
A (Shrugs shoulders) To be honest, one or two individuals don’t need to get credit. But, unfortunately, that’s the way it is in India... KKR isn’t about giving credit to one or two, but to everybody, including those who don’t walk out on the park, but sit in the dressing room. This is what makes KKR the franchise it is. Sure, individuals contribute, but it’s the team which wins.
But it’s your captaincy which stood out at the Wankhede the other night. Don’t you feel you made a big contribution?
I’m not sure whether I need to get credit for the bowling changes... For me, the bowlers did the job... If my bowlers hadn’t bowled the way they did, comprehensively defending 140, I would have looked like a fool. I remember people were critical that I'd fielded three spinners (Shakib-al Hasan, Sunil Narine, Iqbal Abdulla) but a quality bowler is a quality bowler, irrespective of the wicket. I can plan the moves, but it’s the bowlers who have to deliver. They did, at the Wankhede. There are no successful captains on their own, successful teams make successful captains.
Did the win over the Mumbai Indians give you more satisfaction?
Actually, we didn’t bat to potential and should have got more runs than 140. It was a 160-170 wicket... But 140 on the board is 140 on the board...Anything on the board is on the board... The spinners bowled to their potential and we could defend a total which was short of the par score.
Your stock soared when you declared that Rajat Bhatia was your MoM (in Mohali) and when you gave your MoM award to Debabrata Das (in Chennai)...
I didn’t do it to make headlines... Sadly, in India, we only hail a hundred or a five-wicket haul... At KKR, we want to recognise even the small contributions. I just played my part... It’s time that everybody started to recognise the small, but meaningful, contributions. Rajat didn’t get a fiver, nor did Das get a fifty or a hundred, but both made such a match-winning impact.
As captain, has your biggest challenge been to pick the four foreigners who can feature in the XI?
I guess it has been a challenge for all the captains in this IPL... When there’s so much quality, it’s tough picking the four... One tries to select the best XI, the ones who should do the job. If that one day means playing only three players from overseas, then so be it. Individuals don’t matter, the team does. One must not lose sight of that.
You’ve been leading from the front...
I’ve just been doing my job... Your job is to write, mine is to score. You’re doing your job, I’m doing mine, nothing more.
Knight Riders can win IPL-5: Gambhir
Debabrata can play for India one day: Gambhir
This is your second season as the Knights’ captain. Is there something you picked up in 2010-11 which has come in handy this time?
The core is the same, with the addition of Brendon (McCullum) and Narine ... Also, Marchant de Lange, who is clearly one to watch out for... They've given me options. Of course, it helps if you work with more or less the same group... You get to know the players better and, in turn, they get to know you better.
How would you describe your style of captaincy?
There are no styles of captaincy... I’m there to get the results, not please everybody... As long as we win, I don’t mind being in the bad books of everyone. It’s not about being good... If I need to tell somebody that he has to pull up his socks, I’ll do so. Say exactly that.
Did you watch the Chennai Super Kings versus the Kings XI Punjab match on Thursday? The result ensured that the Knights would again make the playoffs?
If I manage to, I watch the matches, otherwise I don’t... I don’t watch a match only because I’m interested in its outcome... What’s important is how we play, not what the others are doing... We’ve qualified, but we still need to play good cricket here (against the Pune Warriors India) on Saturday.
What has been the telling difference between last season and this one?
In terms of personnel, the presence of Brendon and Narine... Our best is yet to come... We’ve been playing almost to potential... We’ve got a lot of quality and should come out guns blazing in the playoffs. However, before that, we’ve got a match to go.
Did you expect Narine to make the impact he has?
Look, I don’t like talking about individuals... Narine’s a quality bowler and I played him in the Indore ODI late last year... He’s different... A lot of credit needs to go to all the bowlers... Shakib, (Lakshmipathy) Balaji... Everybody. But, yes, Narine has carried the burden of our bowling very well and the others have bowled around him, have supported him. Narine’s been exceptional.
Why did you not open from the very first match?
But it’s not about me, it’s about the team. If it’s felt that the team requires me at No.3, I’ll again go at No.3... Initially, I thought Jacques (Kallis) would do the job as an opener, but then I felt I should open... Also, as I’m a left-hander, we could have a left-right combination going. It’s not about the number in the batting order or the runs scored, but what’s best for KKR.
As a batsman, were you under pressure when IPL-V began?
No... I was the second-highest run-getter (for India) during the tri-series in Australia... In any case, what has gone has gone... Whether I’ve got a hundred or a duck, the past is past... It’s done and dusted... I don’t look back.
Is the pressure in the IPL the same as in international cricket?
If you’re a professional cricketer, then you’ll feel the pressure in every game, be it for your country or for your franchise or for your state. I’m expected to perform... I myself want to perform.
Well, how do you relax?
By being with the people who make me feel comfortable... My wife Natasha has been travelling with me for most of the matches... Then, there are friends... You won’t find me with people I don’t relate to... I’m fortunate that Vijay Dahiya, my first captain in the Ranji Trophy, is the assistant coach of KKR... I developed my cricket seeing him play and he’s so supportive. Our association goes back a long way.
Coach Trevor Bayliss keeps quite calm. What’s it like working with him?
He keeps a low profile, which is important... Trevor’s job is behind the scenes and the way he man-manages is fantastic ... He knows exactly what to say and when to say it... Knows how to pep up guys. For a coach to be successful, he must first be a good man-manager. Trevor is just that. We’ve worked very well together in the first year of our association and I hope it (the bond) will get stronger.
The last one... What if you lift the IPL trophy on May 27?
(Grins) It will mean a lot to Calcuttans, to the franchise, to the players... The support for KKR in Calcutta has been incredible... Full houses for so many matches... We owe something to the Calcuttans.
At KKR, we want to recognise even the small contributions: Gambhir
Gambhir said: "Sadly, in India, we only hail a hundred or a five-wicket haul."Yahoo! Cricket – Sat 19 May, 2012 2:59 PM IST
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