By Suman Saurabh, 11 May, 2012.
Sunil Manohar Gavaskar can arguably be the most important cricketing figure in the history of the Indian cricket. He was respected as the first ever Indian batsman for his next to perfect technique and even more so for the amazing concentration ability by overseas players. He was the first batsman to score 10,000 test runs which included 30 centuries. Although now this record has been broken by few including Sachin Tendulkar, being first to reach this mile stone especially in his era of lethal fast bowlers with hostile pitches full of grasses, sets him apart in the league of all time great batsmen.
He was born on 10 July, 1949, mumbai. He scored a fifth ball duck in his debut Ranji Trophy match (1968/69) against Mysore but soon announced his arrival with three consecutive tons in the remaining Ranji matches. He made a test debut against West Indies at Port of Spain on 6 march 1971. He scored a staggering 774 runs in 4 matches with an average of 154.80 in this test series, a record that still remains intact for the most prolific series by a batsman on debut. He played his last test against arch rivals Pakistan at Bangalore on 13 march 1987. During his carrier of 16 years, he scored 10122 runs in 125 Test matches with an average of 51.12 and 3092 runs with an average of 35.13 in 108 oneday matches. He has even got a single wicket of Zaheer Abbas both in test and ODI. He has captained India in 47 tests with 9 wins and 37 ODI with 14 wins. He is married to Marshniel Gavaskar, daughter of a leather industrialist in Kanpur and also has a son named as Rohan Gavaskar. Once retired, Gavaskar had served as a television commentator, analyst and columnist, as well as discharged various roles with the BCCI, and served as chairman of the ICC cricket committee.
The prestigious Border – Gavaskar Trophy is named after this cricketing legend. Post retirement, he has become the most important voice not only in India but of the world cricket. He has also been awarded the Padma Bhushan award and played a lead role in the Marathi movie “Savli Premachi”. In real life too he has played a famous heroic role in the 1993 Bombay Riots by sheltering and protecting a Muslim family.
Given below are the tributes paid by the various cricket legends of the world to this great man.
“I would have been proud to have played cricket with him.” (Donald Bradman)
“Thirteen hundreds against the West Indies is no mean feat. What stood out was his concentration level and the ability to work things out.” (Clive Lloyd)
“The Indian combines Boycott’s steadiness and Greenidge’s ability to keep the runs flowing.” (Ian Botham)
“I would have stood in the slips, and let others bowl.” (Keith Miller – when asked how he would bowl to SMG)
“The difference between Richards and Gavaskar is fairly expressive in the lifestyle of the two countries. The Caribbean life is like that, its excitable, its aggressive, its colourful, whereas in India there is method, there is thought, there is art.” (David Frith – editor of Wisden)
“I think this innings of Sunny should be preserved in video. And not only preserved. It should also be shown to all young cricketers as a model innings. I don’t believe there were many moments in which there was any imbalance in the man’s positioning. The feet were always in place, the head was well down and the left shoulder was leading him into the shots perfectly.” (Alan Border – On Gavaskar’s century at Lords – MCC bicentenary test)
“You cannot compare Sunny with anyone. For him batting was everything. He didn’t want to fail or throw away his wicket. He had perfect technique, perfect temperament. He is the best” (Mohinder Amarnath)
“The most compact batsman to whom I have ever bowled.” (Imran Khan)
We have also embedded rare videos and photos of this legend on cricketbirds.
It is believed that Gavaskar was the one who actually first earned respect for India in cricket world. He was the one who brought the virtue of professionalism among his fellow team mates in true sense. The Indian cricket team actually started to recognize its talent by putting faith in itself under him. Sunil Gavaskar is indeed undoubtedly the best opening batsman that the world has ever produced. We at cricketbirds are honored to have him inducted in our hall of fame.
Suman Saurabh is a cricket analyst and columnist at cricketbirds.