Demon not in surface, in batsmen's mind: Sunil Gavaskar

Nagpur: Former India skipper Sunil Gavaskar today defended the nature of Jamtha track, saying it is poor "technique" of the batsmen and not any "demon" in the pitch that resulted in South Africa being bundled out for a paltry 79 during the third cricket Test here.

Sunil Gavaskar
Sunil Gavaskar

Proteas registered their lowest score after entering the International arena post the aparthied era as a record 20 wickets fell on Day 2 of the third Test at the VCA Stadium. "Can we not actually be absolutely upright and question the technique of the batsman of both the teams. Why are we shying away from that and blaming the pitch? It is a typical Indian pitch where the ball is going to turn. The demons are there in the batsmen's mind, the demon is not in the surface," Gavaskar told NDTV.

"When it is spinning and turning and bouncing then I would say that yes, the pitch has got something to do with it. Yes, it's not a great wicket to bat on, I agree, but do not blame this wickets for so many wickets to have fallen so far. It's been terrible batting by both teams," the batting legend said. A host of international players included Michael Vaughan, Mathew Hayden, David Lloyd and Wasim Akram have commented on what they believe is a "diabolical" pitch, but Gavaskar sees no truth behind the hype.

"It is a pitch where there is no danger to life and limb, where there is danger to life and limb is the kind of pitch you have to watch and criticise. Nothing of that sort is happening here. It's just been poor technique and temperament from both the teams. World class batsmen have panicked and got out," he said.

"This discussion about the pitch is understandable to the extent that look a Test match is finishing in 2 or 3 days and robbing the spectators and broadcasters time, but at the same time if it is poor batting how can you blame the pitch? "I would advise them to talk about the pitches in their own country's rather than look at India as whipping boy.

Because you guys sitting 10,000 miles away are going to see 5-10 deliveries and jump to conclusions. Please let me have your answers of pitches in England and other countries where matches are finishing in 2-3 days and then we will see who will be fined and who would be taken to task. "That is my answer to all those former cricketers who have played 5 or 10-20 Test matches and who do not know how to play on a pitch where the ball starts to do a little bit," he added.

Gavaskar also said that overseas pitches have escaped the kind of criticism that Indian wickets are facing. "There has to be a balance between bat and ball that would be an ideal pitch but nothing is ideal. We will either get a pitch which is so flat, like in Perth, where you will get 2000 runs and see just 15 wickets fell or you can have a pitch where the batsmen have got themselves out," he said.

"I agree with the point of having a result-oriented pitch is concerned. A pitch that gives a result on Day 5 would be an ideal world. But there has been absolutely nothing said about the pitches in England, with sides being dismissed for 60 odd and matches finishing in two-and-a-half and three days. Nobody had anything to say and now we have people sitting thousands of miles away, who have just watched the odd ball, commenting on the nature of pith in India. I'd like to ask them where was a wicket caused or wicket lost because of the pitch.

"Hashim Amla playing a sweep shot, nothing to do with the pitch. AB de Villiers working to play the ball towards the onside, nothing to do with the pitch, Faf du Plessis, looking to play the ball. In India's turn on Day 2, Shikhar Dhawan playing a reverse sweep and getting out, Virat Kohli looking to play the ball against the turn and skying it up in the air, Murali Vijay trying to steer the ball outside the off stump into the slip. What has the pitch done in these two days for so many wickets to fall?," he pointed out.

Asked whether greats like Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid or VVS Laxman would have tackled the Jamtha track in a better manner, Gavaskar said," Definitely, I don't think you would have had a 400 plus score, but we wouldn't have had teams dismissed on 79. Definitely not on Day 2 of this pitch. I think the South Africans have had a look at the pitch and have got out in the dressing room. They got out in the dressing room even at Mohali".

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