New Delhi: In a stinging criticism, former India captain Sunil Gavaskar yesterday said that young left-arm spinner Axar Patel was not Test cricket material and was at best "a roller of the ball" who was very much predictable.
Gavaskar said that 21-year-old spinner was "not the next big thing of Indian cricket" and could not be considered as a specialist spinner in Test cricket because he does not turn the ball. "No, Axar Patel is not an alternative spinner India should be looking for. He just rolls the ball, he does not have the flight and his deliveries are very much predictable.
He does not turn the ball unless the pitch is favourable. He is slightly slower than medium pace," Gavaskar said when asked whether the youngster could be a potential Test spinner who can do well for the country. "Yes, Ashwin, Harbhajan, Amit Mishra and Karn Sharma are the spinners India can look for but certainly not Axar Patel,"
Gavaskar told NDTV as he analysed India's Test team for the tour of Sri Lanka.
Patel has played 18 ODIs and two T20 Internationals after making his international debut last year. He has so far taken 23 wickets in his 18 ODIs for an average of 26.60 and economy rate of 4.59. He took two wickets from as many matches in the ODI series against Bangladesh last month and five scalps in three games in the just-concluded ODI games in Zimbabwe.
The former captain rued that India has not produced many quality bowlers in the last few years and he partly blamed the pitches offered in the Ranji Trophy for this. "For the past few years, we have struggled to find quality spinners. One reason could be the kind of pitches we are offering for Ranji Trophy matches. We leave a lot of grass on these Ranji pitches and that does not help quality spinners come through," he said.
"We need to make these pitches level playing for both bat and ball. There may be grass but not a lot of grass. Early in the game, the spinners should be able to use their flight and drop the flight on the second and third days. We should prepare pitches like this," he added. Gavaskar described Test captain Virat Kohli's decision to play a India 'A' match in Chennai ahead of the Sri Lanka series next month as a right one.
"It's a very good call on the part of Virat. He has not played much cricket in the last 2-3 weeks. His form was also not that good in Bangladesh for his standard. If he scores big in India A match, he can go with confidence in Sri Lanka," said Gavaskar.