MUMBAI: The Indian cricket board’s loss of camaraderie with the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) notwithstanding, left-handed opener Gautam Gambhir has been allowed to fly to Essex, north-east of London, to play with the first division county for the remaining season. The BCCI, in the recent past, had been reluctant to allow Indian cricketers to play in English counties following the ECB’s snub more than a year ago in refusing to let Indian Premier League (IPL) teams play in Ireland and Scotland.
However, that stand may now restrict only to Twenty20 and not the longer formats of the game as Gambhir – looking to make a comeback to the national team – has been granted a NOC from the BCCI to replace Kiwi opener Hamish Rutherford at Essex. The batsman will look to find some runs for himself while he helps the county gun for the championship.
Gambhir’s arrival should come as a huge shot in the arm for Essex. But more importantly, from India and Gambhir’s point of view, it will allow him to keep himself busy at a time when there’s no domestic cricket being played in the country and give national selectors a good reason to keep an eye on his performance.
To allow Gambhir to fly to England is a decision that seems to have been taken keeping several factors including the views of the national selection committee – in mind. Besides Rohit Sharma, who has continuously failed to show a larger appetite for runs, there’s no other experienced batsman available to partner the in-form Shikhar Dhawan at the top of the order. With South Africa coming up as the next big test this winter and the rising expectation of a five-Test duel in England in 2014, the selectors may have started looking at the options available.
If the move clicks, Essex’s latest entrant could once again be India’s calling card.