June 29, 2022

Sunil Gavaskar and his tales from the Caribbean

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Sunil-Gavaskar-From cricwizz

Sunil Gavaskar, the legendary Indian batsmen, is a great story-teller. Over the years, he has narrated his numerous experiences with the Caribbean fans and players. On the occasion of Gavaskar’s 67th birthday, Nishad Pai Vaidya flips through the pages of Sunny Days and Idols to recall a few interesting encounters Gavaskar had with the Caribbean people.

“You can’t score runs here unless you drink rum.”

Gavaskar first toured the West Indies as a 21-year-old in 1971. On arrival in Jamaica, rum was on the menu as a welcome drink for the Indian tourists. However, the teetotaller Gavaskar declined the offer. The waiter then replied by saying, “What maan, you, a batsman! You can’t score runs here unless you drink rum.” Talk about a welcome in a new land!

“Why are you after me”

In only his second Test for India, Gavaskar was on his way to score his maiden century at the highest level. During his pursuit for his hundred, Gavaskar was reprieved three times by Garry Sobers, who was known for his good fielding. On dropping the third catch, Sobers told Gavaskar, “Maan, why are you after me? Can’t you find some other fielder?” Gavaskar went on to score 116, the first of his 34 Test centuries.
“Hit the ball in the air”

Gavaskar was one of the most technically correct batsmen and fashioned his game around the copybook. However, that mindset was a handicap on the golf course. Speaking to Sport360’sgolf journalist Joy Chakravarty, Gavaskar revealed that he was once invited by Sobers for a game of golf on his first tour to the Caribbean. However, the young Indian batsman could only hit it along the ground. Sobers waited for some time and then said, “Son, it ok in this game to hit the ball in the air!”

One dollar against a 100

During the fifth Test at Trinidad in 1971, West Indies batsman Maurice Foster was batting on 99, when one of the spectators approached Gavaskar at the boundary, telling him that the batsman would fall short of the mark. “He said he would give me a hundred dollars if Foster got that run or else I would have to give him one dollar,” Gavaskar wrote. Abid Ali bowled Foster for 99 and Gavaskar had to pay the spectator the dollar after the break.

Malcolm Marshall gets tips from across the boundary

On one of the tours to the West Indies, Gavaskar and his opening partner, Anshuman Gaekwad, battled an in-form Malcolm Marshall. The legendary West Indies fast bowler had the Indians all at sea, but somehow, could not get the breakthrough. As Marshall continued to trouble the Indian openers, someone from the stands shouted, “Ohh Maako! Maako! Enough of the foreplay, time for some penetration maan!” Gavaskar revealed this anecdote during the launch of Madhav Apte’s autobiography in 2015.

A bribe to drop a catch

During one of the tour games on the 1971 tour, one of the local batsmen hit the ball in the air. Eknath Solkar, one of India’s finest short-leg fielders, settled underneath the ball. A spectator shouted, “Solkaar! Solkaar! If you drop that, you can have my sista [sister].” Nevertheless, the Indian all-rounder took the catch though. As the team came together, the Indian captain, Ajit Wadekar asked Solkar if he had heard the spectator. A witty Solkar replied, “Yes. But, I could not see his sister!”

A marriage proposal

Gavaskar’s cricketing feats made him very popular in the Caribbean. In fact, he even received a marriage proposal from a previously unknown woman in Guyana on the tour in 1976. The lady said she wanted to go to India as she had aspirations of becoming an actress. For that, she needed help from Gavaskar and asked him to marry her. By then, he was already married and had a son. Having turned down the offer, Gavaskar asked the lady why she had picked him. “You’re the most famous, that’s why,” she said. The Indian batsman wouldn’t budge and she then persuaded him to count her as his sister.

The aura around Andy Roberts

Through a Caribbean sojourn, the Indian team would often encounter interesting characters. More often than not, these characters would engage in cricketing chats with them. During the 1971 tour, an airport official warned the in-form Dilip Sardesai, “Now you watch out for this Roberts fella. He gonna knock your head off.” This was three years before Roberts made his Test debut. Fast forward to 1976, when another official at the airport asked Gavaskar, “Gavaaska, you gonna hook Roberts maan or not?” Such instances only prove how much the Caribbean crowd was immersed in cricket.

(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Mumbai-based sports media professional, journalist and anchor)

For more on this story go to: http://cricwizz.com/sunil-gavaskar-tales-caribbean/

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