Gautum Gambhir is a fine batsman, but he got severe criticism from many quarters in the Test against England for being a selfish player.
When batting with the tail, Gambhir decided to play defensively scoring 6 runs in 27 balls. He combined this block with little effort to farm the strike and protect the weaker batters.
It got Shane Warne all hot and bothered.
Being accused of selfishness is almost as bad as accusing a bowler of chucking. So how do you avoid Gambhir's fate and not be labelled as someone only in it for the red inker?
Consider your approach
The first thing is to make sure that you really are still thinking of the match situation.
I think Gambhir was naive rather than selfish but I also think he was playing to a plan for the team. It was just a poor plan.
And that attitude is where you start too. Be mindful of the game and try to play in the way that will squeeze every last run from a dire situation.
But what should that strategy be?
Pick your plan
You have 3 options,
- Play normally. With this option you look to score at a decent rate and have no concern for the tail. You trust they will be able to stay in and you job is simply to score runs without getting out.
- Protect the strike. Here you manufacture the situation in the classic strategy. You score only in boundaries for the first 4 or 5 balls then work a single to protect the tail.
- Hit out. Get as many as you can before wickets run out. Bat like the death of a one day or T20 match.
Gambhir appeared to take the first approach. This is perfectly valid, especially if you tail can hold a bat. Steve Waugh never concerned himself of the tail. But you do need to score as well and Gambhir’s blocking looked bad.
The second approach may have been better for India with more runs scored. However, its quite a skill to farm the strike. You need a batsman who has done it or you end up with a soft wicket from a weak shot trying to find a gap or a run out. Think hard before taking this road.
Hitting out requires the least skill but is also the most likely to fail. It’s best on flat wickets with a hard hitting batting pair. On a raging bunsen with a couple of classy spinners you would think twice.
Put it in perspective
The fact is, all these plans have a good chance of failure. Pick one and stick with it because if it goes wrong when you are out there someone will always criticise you.
If you choose well and execute with skill and it comes off you may add a few runs, but (really) its already too late.
Relax, enjoy batting while it lasts and save your heroism for when it really matters. That's what Gahmbir did and that’s not selfish.