Excellent, cricketer, writer, commentator | Daily News

Excellent, cricketer, writer, commentator

GAVASKA was MAJESTIC in everything he did on and off the field and was a worthy ambassador for the game and India, He held many positions in the governing body for world cricket after quitting the game and recommended many innovations. He was also a respected Match referee

SUNIL MANOHAR GAVASKAR was easily the best batsman and opening batsman that India had produced. He could arguably have been classed with the best batsmen in the world. But them came Sachin Tendulkar the demi god of Indian cricket to replace and overtake Gavaskar in world cricket stature.

Short in stature, but standing tall when bat was in hand, he performed gargantuan tasks and more often than not taking his stance at the wicket, he reeled off runs against all the best bowlers that the international cricket circuit could throw at him.

If the writer remembers right, GAVASKAR made his first tour to Sri Lanka as an undergrad with the Bombay Universities team in the 1980s. On that tour he made a fluent double hundred against a local Combined Universities team and it was that double hundred that rocketed him to world fame and glory as a dashing opening batsman.

A stroke to remember

One stroke he played on that tour to Sri Lanka that is still vivid in my memory was when he hooked a bouncer from Sri Lanka’s one time speed bowler Tikiri Banda ehelgamuwa for six which hook-shot sailed over the Antonian pavilion at Katugastota. The timing of that shot was like lighting striking the pavilion. I was at the scene savoring that stunning shot. He was no respecter of bowlers ---be they fast or slow. His feet were twinkle toed. He got his feet to the ball and with sweet timing,

unleashed his beautiful repertoire of strokes that he carried with him all round the wicket. Or over it when he wished. When making runs his stroke play was a pretty picture and during his reign he made his bat talk and runs cascaded from it like from a water fall. He packed all strokes in the book and when executing, he was correct and a treat to watch.

Lessons to all youngsters

His temperament, technique and stroke play were lessons to all young cricketers watching. Many new born boys were christened SUNIL with their parents hoping that one day they would emulate the master batsman SUNIL GAVASKAR.

But GAVASKAR was GAVASKAR. Never will there ever be born or made another GAVASKAR. Yet while accumulating tons of runs, he never lost his head. He remained the simple and unassuming lad that he was and still is. Every time he took strike, it was scoring runs that mattered to him. Being out cheaply was anathema to him. He would never sacrifice his wicket, but guarded it as though his life depended on it. For any bowler getting his wicket was a prized possession.

Water tight defence

While he sprayed the bowling all over, he had a water tight defence and not many bowlers could breach his defence and let him hear the death knell of his stumps. Bowlers tried hard to knock his stumps over, but only a negligible few succeeded.

GAVASKAR was born in Mumbai and had his schooling at St.Xavier’s High School where he learnt the rudiments of the game and later entered the Bombay University, where while excelling in studies he also excelled with his cricket, especially as an opening batsman.

It is every schoolboy cricketer’s dream to win an award when contests are conducted like what’s happening in Sri Lanka with the conducting of the ‘Sunday Observer schoolboy cricketer of the year’ show. And GAVASKAR had the honour of being ‘India’s Best Schoolboy CrIcketer of the year’ in 1966.

Liking for double tons

In school GAVASKAR showed a liking to make double hundred carving out an unbeaten 246 and 222 in his final year at school.

He made it to the highly commercialized and professionalized big man’s game when he was on the plane to the West Indies in on the 1970/’71 series.

Unable to make his debut in the First Test due to injury, he made the team for the Second Test at Port of Spain with a bang! He scored twin half centuries which helped India to its first ever win against the Windies.

Gavaskar had announced his arrival in style. GAVASKAR began to show his unquenchable thirst for runs making, hammering his First Test century in the Third Test at Guyana 116 and an unbeaten 64. He followed this up with 1 and an unbeaten 117 in the Fourth Test in Barbados.

Rocked the cricket world – sub head

He then rocked the cricket world making 124 and 220 in the Fifth Test in Trinidad which took India to its first ever series victory against the Calypso boys. With this sparking effort he became only the second player to score a century and a double century in the same match like did that Australian batting great Doug Walters who was tagged as another Bradman, but who sadly failed to live up to that tag.

Centuries came naturally to him. He went past the great Sir Don Bradman’s record of 29 centuries and finished with 34 centuries.

In Bradman’s favout it must be mentioned that he played fewer matches.

It must be mentioned that when he opened batting in his career he had to face the blistering pace of bowlers such as Dennis Lillee, Jeff Thomson, Michael Holding, Andy Roberts, Joel Garner, Colin Croft, Malcom Marshall and Wayne Daniel. Demon bowlers not many opening batsmen would have the guts to face.

GAVASKAR was also a safe catcher gobbling up 105 Test catches, 22 ODI catches and a remarkable 293 catches in First Class cricket. Although not being a highly successful captain, he led his country to many Test series victories and always was an exemplary captain.

Attractive and successful

When he quit the game, it lost one of its most attractive and successful opening batsmen that the game of cricket has seen and would not likely to see.

GAVASKA was MAJESTIC in everything he did on and off the field and was a worthy ambassador for the game and India, He held many positions in the governing body for world cricket after quitting the game and recommended many innovations. He was also a respected Match referee.

At this as we feature him in ‘DAILY NEWS’ sports legends column, he was doing TV commentary on the on-going India – Australia Test series in Australia.

Home colleagues

He has along with his other home colleagues – Harsha Bhogle, Ravi Shastri, Sanjay Manjrekar, V.V.S. Lakshman been an example to fellow commentators, describing the action happening out in the middle, proffering advice and making expert comments and not being biased as most commentators are wont to be.

Young cricketers listening to GAVASKAR’ S descriptions can learn a lot. Not only is his descriptions interesting, his writings too are examples for writers stepping into the big league of cricket writing.


TESTS – 125 – RUNS – 10,122 – HIGHEST 236no – HUNDREDS – 34 – FIFTIES – 45 – CATCHES – 105. ODIS – 108 – RUNS – 3092 – HIGHEST 103no – HUNDREDS – 1 – FIFTIES 27 – CATCHES – 22.FIRST CLASS – MATCHES 348 – RUNS 25,834 – HIGHEST 340 – HUNDREDS 81 – FIFTIES – 105- CATCHES 293. - [email protected]


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