World Cup winner Gautam Gambhir has said that he is against cricketers displaying too much camaraderie on the field with players of the rival team in the middle of games.
Gambhir’s comments came during the India vs Pakistan game. The southpaw, who was part of the Indian cricket team which won the 2011 Cricket World Cup, blamed franchise cricket as one of the reasons why cricket games these days don’t have too much aggression.
“When you play on the field for your national team, you must leave the friendship outside the boundary ropes. Game face hona zaroori hai. Dosti bahaar rehni chahiye. There has to be an aggression in the eyes of both sets of players. You can be as friendly as you want after those six or seven hours of cricket. Those hours are very important, because you’re not just representing yourself, you’re representing a nation of over a billion,” Gambhir said in the mid-innings show on Star Sports. “These days you see players of rival teams patting each other on the back and exchanging fist bumps during a match. You would never see that a few years ago. Aap friendly match hi khel rahe ho.”
Gambhir was reacting after being asked about his confrontation with Pakistan wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal in the Asia Cup in 2010, where eventually Mahendra Singh Dhoni had to pull the Indian opener away as things started to heat up.
In that match, batting first, Pakistan had scored 267, with Salman Butt scoring 74 and Akmal scoring 51. When the Indians came out to bat, Akmal tried to get under Gambhir’s skin multiple times, before finally managing to evoke a response from him. Gambhir scored 83 in that match and with the help of Dhoni, who scored a half-century, managed to help India to a three-wicket win off the penultimate ball of the match.
Gambhir clarified that despite the argument he had with Akmal, there was no bad blood between them.
“We’re very good friends. In fact, I gave him a bat and he gave me a bat too. I played one whole season with a bat Kamran had given me. We spoke for an hour recently,” Gambhir added.
He went on to add that sledging someone during games was fine, as long as players didn’t cross the line.
“(You can) Sledge, but don’t get personal. You have to stay within your limits. Don’t involve someone’s family member or get too personal. Banter is fine. In games against Australia and Pakistan, there used to be banter,” he said.