‘Didn’t ask permission to return, was committed to play for India and my wife backed me’: Sunil Gavaskar clarifies about 1976 tour
It all started in the 2nd week of November when BCCI sent out a press release stating that India captain Virat Kohli was granted paternity leave and will fly back home after the first Test against Australia in Adelaide to be with his wife Anushka Sharma for the birth of his first child. Since then, there have been a few changes to the Indian side – both limited-overs and Tests. Question marks have remained over Rohit Sharma’s availability and India have lost the ODI series after their bowlers conceded over 750 runs in the first two matches. But the talk about Virat Kohli’s paternity leave refuses to die.
Many noted former cricketers voiced their opinion on the matter. Legendary India batsman Sunil Gavaskar’s name also popped up in the discussion. Reports started doing the rounds about how BCCI had refused to grant Gavaskar paternity leave in 1975-76 season ahead of the West Indies series.
Gavaskar has now thrown some light on the matter and shared what actually transpired during that time.
“While this is correct, the circumstances of that request were not quite made clear and so, here is an attempt to put the record straight,” Gavaskar wrote in his column for Mid-day.
Gavaskar said that he didn’t ask for a leave from the board.
“Firstly, I did not ask permission to return to be by my wife’s side for the birth. When I left with the Indian team for the (1975-76) twin tour of New Zealand and the West Indies, I was aware that the baby would come while I was away. I was committed to playing for India and my wife backed me to the hilt.”
Gavaskar was injured in the third Test against New Zealand and was advised a few weeks’ rest.
“The doctors advised a four-week break from the game for recovery. The next Test match was in the West Indies in about three weeks and since I wasn’t going to be able to play in the interim, I asked our manager, the legendary Polly Umrigar, if I could go back at my own expense for a few days and rejoin the team in the West Indies well ahead of the First Test. So there was no question of me missing a Test match other than for injury. In fact, I played the first Test despite the doctor having advised another week’s rest,” Gavaskar added.