Shubman Gill Virat Kohli
There has never been any doubt about the 23-year-old’s talent. He proved his mettle.

Former cricketer Wasim Jaffer recently made a massive statement when he claimed that young opener Shubman Gill is the next big batter to come out of the Indian team after Virat Kohli in recent times. He added that Gill could be an all-format player for the team. Speaking to ESPNcricinfo after Gill notched up his maiden Test ton against Bangladesh in Chattogram, Jaffer commented, “He is a class player. I will probably say that after Virat Kohli, he is the next big batter to come out of the Indian camp. He is a three-format player, and I hope to see many more good things from Shubman Gill.”

There has never been any doubt about the 23-year-old’s talent. He proved his mettle at the U19 World Cup in 2018, where he was the second-leading run-getter with 372 runs in five innings at an average of 124. The right-handed batter was soon drafted into the Indian squad and has represented India in 12 Tests and 15 ODIs so far. The transition from U19 cricket to the big stage is a massive leap. Not everyone can make the adjustments instantly. Gill has displayed glimpses of brilliance, but there has been an equal number of disappointments.

Plenty to prove

Let’s reiterate here again that, when it comes to talent, Gill is perhaps next to none in Indian cricket among the upcoming generation. But consistency and success at the top stage require ultimate dedication, a different mindset, and good technique to deal with varied conditions in the case of a batter. Gill looked in sublime form during his maiden Test hundred against Bangladesh on a tricky surface. It was a much-needed knock since he has fallen short on a few occasions in the past. 

The right-handed batter made an impressive Test debut in Australia in 2020-21, registering scores of 45, 35*, 50, 31, and 7 before signing off with that epic 91 in the historic chase at The Gabba. For a youngster playing in his debut Test series, Gill’s knock in Brisbane was out of the top drawer. He displayed fantastic resolve, temperament, and technique to deal with challenging conditions. The young opener laid a solid platform for India’s epic victory, and Rishabh Pant completed the task with an equally fine knock.

In subsequent Tests, though, Gill could have built on the great kick-off to his career in red-ball cricket. There have been several starts, and he has also looked in good touch out in the middle. However, there have been numerous instances when he has thrown his wicket away. His technique has also come under the scanner against the moving ball, where his foot movement has been found wanting. Gill will have to work on these two areas extremely hard to succeed consistently at the top level in Test cricket. The two Ts – Temperament and Technique – are the ultimate Test of a cricketer in the format.

Can Gill build on one-day success?

While the 23-year-old has only played 15 ODIs so far, he has made a terrific start to his international career in the format. Gill has smashed 687 runs at an average of 57.25 and a strike rate of 99.13 with one hundred and four fifties. However, with all due credit, most of his success has come against relative sides like West Indies and Zimbabwe. He got starts in the home series against South Africa but could not convert them again. Gill was also among the runs in New Zealand but did not look all that convincing. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that he still has a point to prove in the format.

Gill is yet to play a T20I for India. In his overall T20 career, he has played 95 matches with a strike rate of 128.72. He has experienced mixed results in the IPL. On some days, the ball has flown off the bat. On the other days, the middle has gone missing. There are still plenty of areas for improvement. Time will tell whether Jaffer’s big prediction on Gill comes true.

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