Like most, Kapil Dev is also convinced that Shubman Gill is the star of the future. However, the World Cup-winning captain chose to add a note of caution.
“He needs to watch out for the next three years before he takes his place in the hall of modern greats.”
In a chat with Sportstar on Saturday, Kapil welcomed the arrival of Gill to continue the tradition of India producing a batter and more to watch in an era. “When Sunil (Gavaskar) finished playing, Sachin (Tendulkar) carried on the good work. When Sachin departed, we had Virat (Kohli) donning the hat. Now, with Kohli still around, Indian cricket is fortunate to have Gill preparing to dominate world cricket with his astonishing prowess,” Kapil noted.
At 23, in a career that started with that epic series in Australia in 2020, Gill has smashed a century in every format of the game. “He is a compact batsman with all the time in the world. His footwork is a lesson for youngsters, and his range of shots is breathtaking. I love the short-arm jab that he brings off with such ease. In a quick position to execute his ideas, Gill is a fantastic all-condition batsman. It is going to be increasingly tough to stop him.”
Gill announced his talent in style with a stunningly constructed 91 at the Gabba as India buried the Australian pride at its favourite venue. He had an aggregate of 80 in his debut Test at Melbourne, which India won to level the series after the 36-all-out humiliation at Adelaide. “His confidence was so evident,” Kapil remembered.
But why should Gill be fiercely watchful over the next three years? “Not just Gill. Any cricketer who makes an impact at the international level must be careful. He attracts the attention of all the teams because they begin to concentrate on taming him. Gill will realise that when he goes to bat every time. The best bowlers are going to come after him, but given his potential, I am sure he will handle them.”
According to Kapil, the approach by Gill reflects the mindset of a modern batter. ”He loves to get going. Look at the time he has to plan his shots. He is so good on either foot. Also, observe how firm his grip is. The bat does not hang loosely. Whether defending or hitting, Gill is in great position to meet the ball. It comes from natural talent and, of course, his reading of the game.”
Kapil would not want Gill to change his style. “He is technically sound. I can’t find any fault. He is physically strong. Normally, batters show their maturity between 27-32. This boy is looking mature ahead of time. He has to remember that he has to compete with himself.”
Gill has produced three electrifying centuries in this edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL). “He has not looked troubled. Bowlers have not been able to hustle him. He has the capacity to decimate any attack and must be preserved and guided. I always give the examples of Sadanand (Viswanath), Siva (L Sivaramakrishnan) and Manni (Maninder Singh). What awesome talent they had, but they lost their way. Even Vinod Kambli did not do justice to his potential. I want Gill to concentrate on building his career with every innings in every season. He is the man to watch.”
With his reputation rising as one of the best batters in contemporary cricket, Gill, feels Kapil, can face the biggest challenge from himself. “He has to stay focused and grounded.” As Kapil pointed out, “The problems may not necessarily come from the field of play. He will need to focus on his game as his popularity rises. Expectations of him are bound to grow. He may need sound counseling in today’s world of exposure. It was different when Gavaskar and Tendulkar were ruling the world. Today, a youngster is constantly under scrutiny. Every move is put on social media. I want Gill to stay grounded and blessed. He is destined to go far, but for the next three years he has to stay focused and consistent.”
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