Gautam Gambhir is known to be one of the more intense characters one is likely to encounter on a cricket field, and that’s the way he talks too.
Speaking to MAIL TODAY on Saturday, Gambhir categorically denied ever threatening to quit the captaincy over the selection of pacer Navdeep Saini, which is said to have led to a tiff with the selection committee and could have affected the focus of the Delhi players, leading to the team missing out on the Ranji Trophy knockouts.
"There are six or seven people sitting in a room to select the team, so there will be differences of opinion. But there was nothing of the sort that I was planning to give up the captaincy. If I’ve been made the man in charge, I will not leave the boat in the middle. It’s my responsibility.
We have tried our best to get the best 15 players in the side at all times, and we’ve been successful most of the time. That’s why we hardly had any changes throughout the season, and the core group has been the same,” the opening batsman said.
Another controversial point was Gambhir insisting on playing home games at the Roshanara Club, giving the Test venue in the city, the Ferozeshah Kotla, a miss.
He defended this decision too.
"Once we had just three points from our first three games, our best chance was to play on wickets that would give us results. It could’ve gone either way and that’s what has happened. One positive thing is that we’ve played four home games and all four were on result-oriented (tracks). Obviously I’m disappointed we didn’t qualify for the knockouts, but it was tough for the batsmen to play on those wickets, especially at a time when it’s cold in the north of the country and the ball starts moving.
"But it was the best option — we gave ourselves the best chance,” the 32-year-old left-hander said.
The star-studded Delhi team finished fifth in Group A with 19 points, and Gambhir hinted that everyone wasn’t pulling his weight in the same direction.
"Our result proves what I’ve always maintained — star players don’t matter a lot. It’s the team that plays well together that wins. If you play as 11 people running for one thing, that’s what matters. We had a group that could’ve gone on to win the Ranji Trophy,” he cryptically said.
WHEN IT CAME to his own form and that of former opening partner at the international level, Virender Sehwag, Gambhir defended the duo. "I’m not at all disappointed with Viru and my performance. One needs to realise we played on very difficult wickets. See how many runs have been scored against us as well. It’s tough for any player on a green track in Delhi at this time. One was never in on those wickets,” he said.
Ahead of the series in South Africa, India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni had said that Gambhir was in the national team’s plans as the third opener.
Asked what he felt about his future in international cricket, Gambhir said: "I’m fine with not being in the team. Till I’m not there, I’m not there. To me, it’s not the platform that matters, my job is to go out there and keep scoring runs. That’s what I play cricket for. Whether I’m third opener or the second one, everyone needs to score runs. People who are there need to score to be there, people who are not there need to score to get there. I wanted to be part of Indian team (to New Zealand), but the reality is that I’m not there. At the moment we have a break and I’m thinking of enjoying it. Once I get back on field, I’ll try and work hard.”
Regarding the new DDCA regime now in place under S. P. Bansal, Gambhir said he hoped they would put cricket first.
"People who run Delhi cricket should always do their best to promote cricket. Rather than thinking of anything else, it’s cricket that should do well, whether it is at the age group level or Ranji Trophy. That’s what their top priority should be. Mr Bansal has done a good job as the general secretary — he has always been the players’ man. Hopefully that will continue,” he said.