Former India skipper Sunil Gavaskar was famous for his impregnable defence and ability to counter hostile fast bowlers of his time without a helmet. However, the ‘little master’, who retired from the game in 1987 after becoming the first Test batsman to surpass 10,000 runs, also showed similar courage to save a family from the clutches of a mob during the 1993 Mumbai riots.
Sunil Gavaskar’s son, Rohan, narrated the incident where the intervention saved the family from harm and provided a lesson in his own life.
“Another one of his characteristics is courage. I got to say there was an incident in 1993 after the bomb blasts, which left a real impact on me.
“We were standing on our terrace right after the bomb blasts, a few days later, when we saw a hate mob, and they had cornered a family,” Rohan, also a former India player, was quoted as saying by PTI.
RUSHING TO HELP
“We knew they did not have any good intentions towards the family and dad saw that, ran down and confronted the hate mob,” he said.
“He told the mob, ‘whatever you are going to do that family, you are going to do to me first’, and then better sense prevailed and the family was allowed to go its way.
“It takes a special kind of courage to put your life at risk and confront the hate mob and I guess it takes special kind of courage to sort of face the kind of bowlers which he did in his career without a helmet.
“People called it courage, someone may call insanity, but in my mind it needs a special courage to do that.”
Rohan was speaking at a function organised by the Sports Journalists’ Association of Mumbai, where Sunil Gavaskar was honoured with the lifetime achievement award.
Sunil Gavaskar, who has a wealth of anecdotes from his career during the 1970s and 1980s, which was far removed from the present day’s media gaze, looked at the lighter side of things.
He recalled how during his first Test series, the 1971 tour of the Caribbean, West Indies great Gary Sobers first dropped his catch but then used to touch him for luck, going on to scoring centuries. Skipper Ajit Wadekar though wasn’t amused, and once hid him in the toilet to prevent that!