Sunil Manohar Gavaskar, a name which has been synonymous with Indian cricket ever since his debut series against the West Indies in 1971. It has been close to half a century since his debut and Indian cricket has produced some great batsman over this period. But even then whenever there is a discussion on the best batsman produced by India, his name figures in the top three if not at the top. Given the fact that he successfully faced the likes of Michael Holding, Weslie Hall, Charlie Griffith, Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thompson among others; without wearing a helmet, it is no wonder that many regard him to be one of the best all time openers in test cricket.
Here, on his 67th birthday, we bring to you five things that you may not know about Sunny (as he is fondly called).
#5 When Vijay Merchant had predicted Gavaskar’s success prior to the 1971 Carribean tour
It is sometimes rightly said that great people have a knack of spotting talent. Gavaskar who made his entry into test cricket at the age of 21 was one of the youngest in the touring squad to the Carribean islands. However, another great Indian Vijay Merchant; had singled out Gavaskar in his advice to the Indian team prior to the series. Merchant had said – “Though he is the youngest player in the team, the senior players would do well to follow his example”. And the rest, as they say is history. Gavaskar scored 774 runs in the four tests that he played.
#4 He could have landed in the family of fisherman had it not been for Nan-Kaka
Thank God for the family
We all know the role that family support plays in shaping the future of children and Gavaskar’s family was always supportive in his career choice. However, had it not been for a little hole near the top of his left ear lobe; he could have well been fishing in the Machhimaar nagar of south Mumbai (then Bombay).
Mr Narayan Masurekar, one of Gavaskar’s relative had come to see him on the day of his birth and had noticed a little hole near the top of his left ear lobe. But when he came to see the child next day he saw that the baby did not have any hole on his left ear lobe. This resulted in a frantic search in the hospital and Gavaskar was eventually located sleeping peacefully beside a fisherman.
So, if his Nan-Kaka (as Gavaskar addressed Mr Masurekar) had not noticed this birth mark; Gavaskar could well have been just another fisherman in the Arabian Sea or maybe his talent could have still brought him into cricket. That’s a thing we will never come to know.
#3 The reality behind the infamous Snow charge
The famous altercation with John Snow
Cricket fanatics of yesteryears will recall an ugly incident involving Gavaskar and Englishmen John Snow in the Lords test match in 1971. Gavaskar who was batting with Farokh Engineer set off for a quick single during their partnership. At one point during the run, Snow was at level with Gavaskar and with the ball nowhere nearby him gave the little master a violent shove. This sent Gavaskar sprawling and having lost his bat, he crawled to the crease.
Snow came back and tossed the bat back to Gavaskar. But the news hungry media twisted the story to their advantage. As per Gavaskar in his autobiography Sunny Days, he says that “He did not fling it as reported in the newspapers. In fact, after lunch he came to me and apologised. However, the England selectors dropped him from the next test as a disciplinary measure.”
#2 When Gavaskar’s courage and strength saved a Muslim family from a violent mob
The fighter in Sunny stood up even after his playing days
The incident which being described below is from January 31st, 1993; more than five years since Gavaskar had hung up his boots. However, looks like he still had in him to fight against all odds.
The car of a family of eight Muslims had crashed after the driver was hit by a stone in Worli Seaface in Mumbai. Gavaskar who had seen the attack from the balcony of his apartment, came down immediately to help the family. And by the time the mob of youths reappeared for a fresh attack, Gavaskar was down on the roads. He challenged the mob and saved the family. They were later on taken to a hospital in a police van.
There cannot be a more apt example of stars coming out to help the common man. Gavaskar had again proved that he was a hero outside the 22 yards also.
#1 “These big blokes have the power, but we little ones have the footwork”
And then the nifty footwork was also a joy to watch
When a person of the stature of Sir Don Bradman recognises your talent then you have to be exceptional. Indians fans will recall the buzz when Sir Don had compared Sachin Tendulkar
to himself. But much before that an Indian had caught the eye of Sir Don.
Gavaskar who was part of the Rest of the World XI against Australia in 1974 had got an opportunity to meet the great Sir Don. During a friendly banter, Sir Garfield Sobers had provocateur the short guys. In response, Sir Don said to Gavaskar, “These big blokes have the power, but we little ones have the footwork”.
Now when Sir Don, gives a stamp on your footwork; it would mean the world to you even if you are Gavaskar.