A string of poor shows, followed by Shikhar Dhawan and Murali Vijay’s success at the opening slot for India in Test cricket might have sidelined Gautam Gambhir, but the gutsy opener is not ready to take things lying down.
Even as Dhawan has grown from strength to strength, Vijay hasn’t really reposed the faith shown in him by the selectors. And with the away series against South Africa lined up at the end of the year, Gambhir is keeping no stone unturned to ensure that he is back to the form that saw former opening partner Virender Sehwag call him the best opener for India since Sunil Gavaskar in 2009.
With hardly any action in the domestic circuit before the start of the Ranji season, Gambhir is set to play for Essex for the remainder of the current English season.
Gambhir will be available for the remaining County Championship and Yorkshire Bank 40 matches and is elated at the opportunity to play county cricket, as he hasn’t had much match practice post IPL.
“I am delighted to have this chance to make my county debut with Essex. After IPL, I was looking to play some competitive cricket and playing for Essex will give me that opportunity. I am thankful to Essex for presenting me with this option and BCCI for allowing me to participate in county cricket,” he said.
Gambhir’s coach Sanjay Bhardwaj said that he wanted the batsman to play county cricket as that would be the perfect training ground ahead of the gruelling series in South Africa later in the year, if the opener is selected.
“While the ‘A’ team is already playing in South Africa, be rest assured that the wickets prepared now will be completely different from the ones when India go to play. I felt that the month long time that Gambhir spends in England will help him get ready for the South Africa series, if the selectors recall him. There is not much cricket that will be played in India before the domestic season starts, so I asked him to use that time cautiously,” he told Mail Today.
While critics have felt that Gambhir ought to have been dropped after failing to score big runs over the last couple of years, Bhardwaj believes in calling it a much needed break.
“When you keep playing non-stop, certain errors are bound to creep into your game. But when you get a break, you get to analyse the mistakes and work on it,” he said.
Gambhir is not the first Indian player to try his luck in county cricket in an effort to make a comeback.
Before this, Zaheer Khan and Sourav Ganguly did the same. While Zaheer wreaked havoc playing for Worcestershire in 2006, Ganguly wasn’t that successful in 2005 and 2006. He first played for Glamorgan and then Northamptonshire. Also, Harbhajan Singh played for Essex last season.