Giving priority to IPL than Team India?
Why did Gautam Gambhir opt to play for his IPL franchise despite injury, and at the cost of missing national duty? asks Harish Kotian.
Gautam Gambhir's shoulder injury has suddenly stirred a club versus country debate.
The left-hander has been advised 6-8 weeks' rest after aggravating the injury during the ongoing Indian Premier League.
If reports are to be believed he sustained the injury during India's World Cup-winning campaign, but despite that played for Kolkata Knight Riders in all its 15 matches in the fourth edition of the IPL.
The injury will, most certainly, rule him out of next month's tour of the West Indies, on which he was named captain of the Indian team for the ODI series.
Gambhir was bought by the Shah Rukh Khan-owned outfit for a whopping $2.4 million, making him the costliest purchase in the history of the IPL.
Still, is he justified in giving club cricket priority over the national side?
Image: Gautam Gambhir
'He didn't bother telling anyone about it'
Kolkata Knight Riders' physio Andrew Leipus, who also served the Indian team in the past, blames Gambhir for the state of affairs.
'He clearly recollects a fielding incident where he landed on an outstretched arm and felt a catch deep in the shoulder. In the euphoria at the time, his attention was deservedly elsewhere and he didn't bother telling anyone about it,' wrote Leipus, in a letter to BCCI secretary N Srinivasan.
He also added that Gambhir has been playing with an injury in his left groin, which he is carrying for the past two years.
'To summarise, both of Gautam's injuries are chronic and ideally require time away from the stresses of international cricket in order for them to settle and rehabilitate properly,' he wrote.
Kolkata Knight Riders also sought to shift the blame on the Indian left-hander.
'Gambhir was constantly monitored for workload and was allowed to play after his feedback,' sources close to the team were quoted as saying.
Image: Gautam Gambhir
'I still need to speak to the physio'
Meanwhile, Gambhir also tried to play the blame game after Kolkata were knocked out of the IPL following a four-wicket loss to Mumbai Indians in the eliminator match on Thursday.
'I haven't got the report yet. I still need to speak to the physio yet. I will do that after I reach the dressing room because he never wanted to discuss with me before the match,' he said.
The selectors also were not keen to discuss the issue, saying they had not received any such report on his injury.
"If he was injured, he would not have played in the match against Mumbai Indians. In fact, he got Rohit Sharma run-out with a direct hit. We have not received any report so far on his injury," one of the selectors told rediff.com.
Image: Gautam Gambhir
Who should be blamed for Gambhir's injury?
The Board of Control for Cricket in India is tight-lipped on the scenario. In a statement to the media on Thursday evening, it said none of its office-bearers have spoken on the issue and a "media release will be issued after Gambhir's fitness has been assessed by the Indian team's physiotherapist [Nitin Patel]".
Even India's former coach Gary Kirsten had once criticised the IPL, saying it was one of the reasons for India crashing out of the World T20 in 2009.
But the BCCI was quick to respond, saying it had not forced anyone to play in the IPL and players were free to ask for rest if they feel fatigued.
'BCCI has made it clear that whenever a player feels he is fatigued, he can always let it be known to the board and he will be given rest. After rest and if he is fit, he can be considered for selection again. We are not forcing any player to play any series or tournament,' the BCCI had said then.
Even Australia's top players like Ricky Ponting, Michael Clarke and Mitchell Johnson, who would have made a fortune had they taken part in this edition, decided to skip the T20 tournament to rest and prepare for the country's upcoming fixtures.
But, injured or not, none of the India's leading players were ready to skip even a single match. It is not known whether it was because of pressure from their franchise, the BCCI, or their own decision.
If Gambhir is ruled out of India's tour to the West Indies because of the injury, it will certainly stir up another storm and raise lot of questions for the BCCI.
Similar is the case of Virender Sehwag, who played for Delhi Daredevils despite nursing injury. It was only after his team was out of the reckoning for the play-offs that he decided to miss the rest of the tournament and undergo surgery.
The IPL is certainly a big success and has made Indian cricketers millionaires overnight. But are the big bucks that come with playing around 60 days' T20 cricket worth the risk of missing duty for the national side?
Who is to blame for Gambhir's injury? Is the player himself who played through pain? Or Kolkata Knight Riders, for hiding the extent of the injury? Or the BCCI, for giving priority to the IPL?
Image: Gautam Gambhir (right) with Virender Sehwag