Former India captain and legend Sunil Gavaskar has expressed his displeasure at MS Dhoni making himself unavailable for India ever since the World Cup 2019 semi-final exits, wondering how a player can keep himself away from playing for India for that long.
Speaking to reporters after delivering the 26th Lal Bahadur Shastri Memorial lecture, Gavaskar made his stand on Dhoni very clear. “I can’t tell you anything about fitness. But I think the question that needs to be asked is of MSD himself,” Gavaskar told the media.
“He has not made himself available to play for India since July 10. That is an important point. Does anyone keep himself away from playing for India for that long? That is the question and therein lies the answer,” the cricketer-turned-commentator went on to add.
While Dhoni has not played since the World Cup, Rishabh Pant has failed to secure his place in any of the three formats in the veteran’s absence, fuelling speculations of Dhoni’s likely comeback for the World T20. Sanju Samson, who has been in great form in domestic cricket, was tried out in place of Pant in the third T20I against Sri Lanka in Pune on Friday.
Gavaskar further expressed his desire that the pay package for uncapped players in the Ranji Trophy is raised to reduce the gap with the Indian Premier League (IPL). “IPL dominates Ranji Trophy. Unless match fees are increased substantially, it (Ranji Trophy) will be considered an orphan and poor cousin of Indian cricket,” the former India opener lamented.
“Remuneration of Ranji players has not really increased over the last few years and I hope that with Sourav Ganguly being the BCCI president, he will look into it. The disparity between (remuneration of) players who play 14 days of IPL -- who don’t always play first-class cricket -- and those who play 80 days of Ranji cricket if you play all the matches, is big. Hopefully, that will be narrowed down as much as possible,” he further hoped.
On International Cricket Council’s (ICC) proposal to reduce the duration of Test matches from five days to four, one of the world’s greatest Test openers said that this was the prerogative of the current Test players.
“What I think does not matter. It’s what the current players think that matters because they are the ones who will play the matches. They are the ones who should be consulted. They are more aware of the ground situation. I think we can be there and talk but they are well aware of what needs to be done,” he added.
Earlier, Gavaskar also opened up over the prevailing situation in India in relation to the nationwide protests by students over the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) as well as the recent violence at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), while speaking at the 26th Lal Bahadur Shastri Memorial lecture.
Admitting that the country was in turmoil, Gavakasar added, “Some of our youngsters are out on the street when they should be in their classrooms. Some of them are ending up in hospitals for being out on the streets.”
He, however, expressed confidence that the country can tide over the tough times as they have done in the past as well. “We win when we pull together. India has overcome much crisis in the past. It will overcome this as well and emerge a stronger nation. We as a nation can go higher only if we are all together,” Gavaskar asserted.
--Renin Wilben Albert