Webber plays cricket with Indian superstar Gautam Gambhir
25 October, 2012
Oct.25 (Red Bull) While India has taken to Formula One with great enthusiasm, there’s no doubt which sport is closest to the heart of the nation – which is why a good crowd and lots of local media turned up at the Noida International University Cricket Oval to watch Mark Webber and Gautam Gambhir bat and bowl.
Mark worked up a sweat, using his height to extract some decent bounce from his right-arm fast-medium pace. At the other end even in jeans and a t-shirt Gauti cut an elegant figure at the crease, grinning but watchful – before crashing a few well-pitched balls away into the covers.
“I was trying to pitch it up a little bit but it was all over the joint,” said Mark. “It was great to send a few down and it’s amazing how much time these boys have got – it’s like it’s in slow motion to them. I guess it’s the same in any sport: the good professionals seem to have lots of time. It’s the same in the car: we make it look easy because we’ve got plenty of time.”
Afterwards, the Kolkata Knight Riders captain send down some right arm leg-breaks, which Mark combated with a mix of orthodox defence and wildly enthusiastic heaves, which would have propelled the ball into the next state, had they connected.
“He looked pretty professional – like any other Aussie because I don’t think I’ve ever seen one who wasn’t good at cricket,” said the generous Gambhir. “I imagine if he wasn’t a racing driver he’d have definitely been playing cricket!”
On a day when cricket was definitely the winner, Mark and Gautam then went off to the TV studios to promote the grand prix. “Today I had a really good day,” said Mark. “I managed to bowl a few quick deliveries at Gautam – which he unsurprisingly smashed away for four. It was good to talk about the different disciplines as well – I’m a huge cricket fan so I really enjoyed it.”
“It was a great experience, not only playing cricket but also to get to know Mark as a person” added Gautam, much quieter in person than his exuberant playing style would suggest. “ It was interesting talking about how he goes about his business in F1 which I feel is the toughest sport in the world. I got to know a lot about how he prepares himself for such a big event, it is always a great pleasure knowing about F1 and I had a fantastic time.”
Gautam admitted that he won’t be attending Sunday’s race, as it’s his wedding anniversary, “And I don’t want to make my wife angry.” He did, however, support the suggestion that F1 will be in India for a long time to come: “F1 has a great future in India. There’s a lot of excitement and enthusiasm around the race. I don’t know whether it would be able to beat the popularity of cricket but it has a future.”
Subbed by AJN.