Gautam Gambhir: My insecurities raised the bar as player

Gambhir doesn’t see anything wrong with Paddy Upton’s assessment of him, but insists he wasn’t mentally vulnerable as a player.

Gautam Gambhir: “As a driven individual I have always strived to be the best and raise the bar for myself alone.”   -  K. R. Deepak

Gautam Gambhir on Wednesday said he “doesn’t see anything wrong” in Paddy Upton’s assessment of his insecurities but insisted he wasn’t mentally vulnerable as a player.

In his new book ‘The Barefoot Coach’, Upton, India’s former mental conditioning coach, has written about his notions on mental toughness. He also stated that Gambhir, despite being one of the finest Indian batsmen of his time, was perhaps also “one of the weakest and mentally most insecured (sic).”

“Well, Paddy Upton is a genuinely nice man and he won’t have done anything with any sinful intentions. I have full faith in him,” Gambhir, who is now a political candidate from east Delhi representing the BJP, told PTI when asked about Upton’s comments about him in the book.

Read | Gambhir was 'most insecure', says Upton in his new book

“In any case my insecurities as a cricketer are well-documented. It is not as if Paddy has spoken about something that was not there in public domain,” Gambhir said.

For Gambhir, the insecurity stemmed from his burning desire to attain perfection and he is not “hurt” that Upton has termed him “negative and pessimistic.”

'Doesn't hurt me'

“It doesn’t hurt me but I would like to put things in perspective. Look, what Paddy couldn’t say — maybe he didn’t know or the publisher of the book chose to edit it — that I wanted the Indian team and myself to be the best in the world. That is why I was not satisfied even after scoring a 100 and wanted to score 200 as has been mentioned in Paddy’s book. I see nothing wrong there. As a driven individual I have always strived to be the best and raise the bar for myself alone,” the 37-year-old said.

Gambhir isn’t hurt by the public disclosure of what were supposed to be personal sessions with the South African. “No, no I am not hurt at all, like I said Paddy is a top man. But I’d like to set the record straight that a vulnerable person can’t score in pressure situations of a World Cup final,” said Gambhir.

Gambhir pointed out that numerous inexplicable rejections and entering a complex Ranji Trophy dressing room environment made him the cricketer that he eventually became.

“I was in school (12th standard) when I made my Ranji Trophy debut for Delhi when they had some stalwarts in the ranks,” Gambhir recalled. It was the 1998 season when the likes of Ajay Sharma, Ashu Dani, Akash Malhotra and Vijay Dahiya were part of the side.

'Challenging' situations

“Anyone who understands Delhi cricket will tell you that it was very challenging and a weak-minded person can’t do that,” Gambhir said.

Gambhir did not play two junior age-group World Cups — one at the U-15 level, and the other at the U-19 level in 2000 — despite scoring lots of runs at the domestic level. “I was declined a World Cup spot for under-15s. I was again denied a rightful spot in the under-19s in the year 2000, when I was the highest run-getter in the country and then again in a proper 50-over World Cup in the year 2007,” Gambhir said.

Gambhir has often mentioned before that the 2007 World Cup snub made him almost quit the sport at the age of 26. “These rejections had an impact on me big time but I was mentally strong enough to come back from these reversals and serve my country as much as I could,” he said.

Gautam Gambhir is now a member of the Bharatiya Janata Party. He will contest the Lok Sabha elections from East Delhi. Photo: PTI

 

According to Gambhir, if he was mentally fragile, he couldn’t have led Kolkata Knight Riders for seven years with two Indian Premier League (IPL) titles. He also had to fight for acceptance from a partisan crowd in Kolkata after Sourav Ganguly, its favourite son, was dumped by the franchise.

“Additionally, it is not easy to slip into the shoes of Bengal’s favoured son Sourav Ganguly. When I joined [Knight Riders] in 2011, I was doing that fully aware that I won’t be welcomed with open arms. I was fortunate that during the seven-year stint with [Knight Riders] we won the tournament twice, again not something that a weak mind can do,” he concluded.