Sunil Gavaskar, former India captain, has made interesting remarks on a couple of cricketing topics. Firstly, whether Virat Kohli’s form deserves him to be dropped, and second, whether big players can take breaks from playing for India.
Both are intertwined in some ways. On a news show on India Today, Gavaskar first refused to be drawn into reacting to the comments made by Kapil Dev, on Kohli, and tweets from Venkatesh Prasad and Virender Sehwag about the need to look beyond reputations in selectorial calls. Kapil was forthright in naming Kohli, asking for him to be dropped from the T20 team. Sehwag and Prasad put out tweets, hinting rather than naming, but essentially on the same theme of how no one is indispensable. Gavaskar said he “wasn’t in business of reacting to other former players”, and addressed the issue on his own terms.
“He [Virat Kohli] is not the only one who is out of form. This is not about one person,” Gavaskar said even as he listed out that India have numerous T20 series before the world cup to analyse and select a team based on performances.
When the interviewer then asked about the current trend of playing taking a break, Gavaskar was more direct.
“Cricketers when they are playing for India, they cannot take a break. If selectors drop them, then fine. No one asks for a break when playing IPL. You must play for India. There should not be allowances made for these players who are on terrific retainers.
Let the selection committee decide. But a player cannot ask for a break,” Gavaskar said.
Last month, the former India head coach Ravi Shastri had suggested that an “overcooked” Kohli needed a break.
When the discussion returned to players with reputations and whether they are indispensable, Gavaskar didn’t hold himself back.
“There has been no player including Don Bradman or Gary Sobers who were indispensable. In the history of the game there has not been a single player who has been indispensable,” Gavaskar said.
Asked if he believed Kohli should quit T20s and focus on ODIs, Gavaskar reckoned it was Kohli’s call. “That’s a call for him to make. He knows his cricket better than anybody else. We are from outside. We don’t know what the mental situation is.”
Kapil on Kohli: From 2020 to now
Kapil Dev was one of the former cricketers, who along with Pakistan’s Mohammad Asif, had foreseen Kohli’s decline.
As early as March 2020, Kapil had said that Kohli’s reflex had slowed down and put it down to his eyesight.
“When your eyesight weakens then you have to tighten up your technique more. The same ball which he used pounce on so quickly, he’s getting late on it now. When you reach a certain age, when you cross 30 then it affects your eyesight. In swings, which used to be his strength, he (Kohli) used to flick them four but now he has been dismissed twice. So I think he needs to adjust his eyesight a bit,” Kapil had told ABP News.
“When big players start getting bowled or LBW to incoming deliveries then you have to tell them to practise more. It shows that your eyes and your reflexes have slowed down a bit and in no time your strengths turn into your weakness. So Kohli needs to practise more.
Earlier this month, Kapil had called for Kohli to be dropped from international T20s.
“Now the situation is such that you might be forced to bench Kohli from T20 playing eleven. If world No. 2 bowler Ashwin can be dropped from Test side then (once upon a time) world No. 1 batter can also be dropped,” Kapil told ABP News.
“Virat is not batting at a level which we have seen him do over the years. He has made a name because of his performances but if he isn’t performing, then you can’t keep the performing youngsters out of the team. You can’t just go by reputation but you have to look for current form. You can be an established player but that doesn’t mean that you will be given chances even if you fail five games in a row,” he said. “Obviously, if selectors don’t pick him (Kohli), then it could be because a big player isn’t performing.”