Sunil Gavaskar: The original Little Master
SUNIL GAVASKAR: Nicknamed ‘Sunny’, he is often counted as one of the greatest opening batsmen in the annals of world’s Test cricket history and among the best Test batsmen. He has several records to his name and was adjudged the Wisden Cricketer of the Year in 1980Updated: Jul 10, 2019 09:42 IST
Born in Mumbai on July 10, 1949, to Manohar Gavaskar and Meenal, Sunil Manohar Gavaskar loved playing cricket since a very young age and became the star batsman of his school. His high school playing career gave way to first-class cricket which, in turn, led to his selection in the national team. He entered international cricket with a bang — garnering an impressive 774 runs in his debut Test series (1970-71) against the mighty West Indies.
Having grown up in a family that loved cricket — his father had played at the club level and his maternal uncle, Madhav Mantri – wore national colours in Tests as a wicketkeeper, Gavaskar went to the St Xavier’s School and was adjudged the country’s Best Schoolboy Cricketer in 1966. In a first-class debut in 1966-67, he represented Vazir Sultan Colts XI.
A successful first-class career helped Gavaskar secure a spot in the Indian team that toured the West Indies in 1971. His spectacular debut electrified cricket lovers back home.
On another tour of the West Indies five years later (1975-76) he scored consecutive centuries, (156 & 102) in the second and third Tests. His century in the third Test played a crucial role in India’s win.
He toured Australia in 1977-78 and had a blast, scoring three consecutive Test centuries. However, his performance went in vain as India lost the series.
Over the 1970s and 1980s Gavaskar captained India on many times but was not very successful. He was succeeded by Kapil Dev.
Gavaskar was part of the 1983 Cricket World Cup-winning team in England.
He was in great form during the 1985-86 tour of Australia and scored an unbeaten 166 in the first Test as well as 172 in the third Test, ending with 353 runs at an average of 117.
He played his last Test series against Pakistan in 1987 and retired after the 1987 Cricket World Cup in India.
He became the first player to score 10,000 runs in Test cricket.
He broke Sir Don Bradman’s record of 29 Test centuries and at one time held the world record for the highest Test centuries and the highest number of Test runs. His Test record is: Matches – 125, Runs Scored – 10,122, Batting Average – 51.12, 100s/50s – 34/45. His ODI record is: Matches – 108, Runs Scored – 3092, Batting Average – 35.13, 100s/50s – 1/27.
He has been honoured with the civilian awards Padma Shri and Padma Bhushan in recognition of his contributions to the world of cricket, as well as the Col CK Nayudu Lifetime Achievement Award at the BCCI Annual Awards Function 2011-12.
A day after Gavaskar was born, another baby boy was mistakenly handed over to his mother at the hospital. His maternal uncle, who, on the previous day had noted a small hole on the baby’s ear, realised that there was a mix-up. After search, the baby was found with a fisherwoman.
Gavaskar also tried his hand at acting on the silver screen. He played the lead role in the Marathi movie Savli Premachi. He also had a cameo in the Hindi film Maalamaal and lent his voice for a popular Marathi song, Yaduniye madhye thambaila vel konala.
His childhood fascination was to become a wrestler. In fact, he was a huge fan of wrestler Maruti Vadar. He even used to carry Vadar’s luggage. Gavaskar was also a huge fan of West Indies cricketer Rohan Kanhai that he named his only child after him.
Gavaskar became famous as a commentator after retirement and is known for his forthright views. He has also authored several books that include Idols, Runs ‘n Ruins, One Day Wonders as well as his autobiography titled Sunny Days.
In 2003, he became the first and the only Indian to deliver the Marylebone Cricket Club Spirit Of Cricket Cowdrey Lecture. Gavaskar was the third person to do so in the 18-year history of the event instituted in memory of the late Lord Cowdrey of Tonbridge.
First Published: Jul 10, 2019 09:42 IST