‘I still don’t know the reason for it’: Sunil Gavaskar on being removed as captain despite beating West Indies
Despite beating West Indies at home in 1978-79, Gavaskar was removed as captain of the team as the BCCI replaced him with S Venkataraghavan.Updated: Jun 29, 2020, 18:40 IST
Former India captain Sunil Gavaskar has shared an interesting nugget from his playing career, revealing how he was surprised at being removed as captain of the Indian team despite winning a home Test series against the West Indies in 1978-79. West Indies had toured for a six-Test series, which India won 1-0 with a three-wicket victory in Chennai. However, Gavaskar was removed as captain of the team despite scoring 732 runs and the BCCI replaced him with S Venkataraghavan as captain of the team.
“I was replaced as captain despite India winning the series against the West Indies (1978-79) and in which I got more than 700 runs. I still don’t know the reason for it, but can only surmise that it was because I had been pretty open about the offer to join Kerry Packer’s World Series Cricket. However, I signed the BCCI contract before the selection, thereby proving where my loyalties lay,” Gavaskar wrote in his column for Mid-Day.
The former captain also revealed how he had to convince the selectors to retain Bishan Singh Bedi after his poor performance against Pakistan a couple of months prior to the West Indies series. Bedi had picked up just six wickets from three Tests in Pakistan with a best of 3/124 at an average of 74.83, and the selectors would have about to drop the former left-arm spinner for the home series had it not been for Gavaskar’s intervention.
However, Bedi played just three Tests and had seven wickets to show for his effort and the tour of England in 1979 turned out to be Bedi’s final Test series for India.
“The committee decided to drop Mr BS Bedi after three Test matches. In fact, they wanted to drop him straightaway after I replaced him as skipper after the series loss in Pakistan. I argued that he was still the best left-arm spinner in the country and so they reluctantly agreed to pick him for the first Test,” Gavaskar added.
“Kapil Dev had just come on the scene then and along with Karsan Ghavri had formed a potent new ball pair for India. The spinners therefore didn’t get the kind of spells they were used to. The pitches were absolute beauties to bat on with little help for the spinners. The selectors wanted to leave out Mr BS Bedi for the second and third Test too, but I managed to convince them not to.
Gavaskar, who later was reappointed as India captain for the 1979-90 home series against Australia and Pakistan, further stated how he pushed for the inclusion of Dhiraj Parsana and the late Rajinder Goel for the West Indies series but the selectors did not listen to him.
“Kindly remember the India captain is co-opted to the selection committee but has no vote,” he said. “However, after the conclusion of the third Test and anticipating that the Chennai pitch was going to be one with more bounce, the selectors went for Dhiraj Parsana, who like Ghavri could bowl both seam and spin. This is where I couldn’t convince the committee to pick either Goel Saab or Shivalkar.”