'The ball was just flying around': Gavaskar names the 'hardest' Indian pitch he’s batted on, picks favourite all-rounder
Over the years, rarely have pitches in India been associated with fast bowling. Pitches in India have historically favoured the spinners, but there was one surface, in particular, that was heaven for fast bowlers. One that the legendary Sunil Gavaskar has described as the toughest pitch in India that he's batted on.
Now, Gavaskar with all those runs – over 10,000 in Tests – had batted around the world, and this includes some of the most lightning-quick and bouncy decks around the world – Brisbane, Jamaica, Perth – and many more. But none comes close to the one Gavaskar batted on during a Test match against the West Indies in Chennai.
"The hardest pitch that I have played on was in Chennai in 1978 against the West Indies. It was the fastest pitch that I played on. I’ve played at Sabina Park on a couple of occasions where the ball was flying. I’ve played at Perth. I’ve played at the Gabba where the ball was travelling," Gavaskar said on The Cricket Analyst podcast.
"I’ve played on a rain-fresh pitch at Sydney when Jeff Thomson was really letting in rip. But that pitch in Chennai with Sylvester Clarke. The ball was just flying around. I think that’s the most difficult pitch I’ve batted on."
During the time Gavaskar played in, the world of cricket was highlighted by four top all-rounders in Kapil Dev, Imran Khan, Ian Botham and Richard Hadlee. However, none of these Gavaskar picked as the greatest all-rounder he had seen. The former India captain bestowed that honour on the legendary Garfield Sobers of the West Indies.
"The greatest all-rounder that I saw was Sir Garfield Sobers because he was quite simply somebody who could change the game with the bat, he could change the game with the ball. He could change the game by taking an incredible catch close in or even in the outfield. But the impact that he had and the number of matches he turned with both bat and ball is the reason why he was the greatest all-rounder that I have seen."