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“The little master who stood tall” – 50 years of Sunil Gavaskar

Sunil Gavaskar
Picture Source: Twitter

A few years ago, on “Comedy Nights with Kapil”, when a familiar question was asked for the umpteenth time (On how he faced all those fast bowlers without a helmet), going with the flow of the show, Sunil Gavaskar said, “My head’s empty, even if I got hit there, it would go to a boundary”.

While that was hilarious, we know for a fact it wasn’t true.

Sir Andy Roberts, Malcolm Marshall, Sir Richard Hadlee, Colin Croft, Denis Lillee, Jeff Thompson, Joel Garner, Michael Holding, Bob Willis – These were some of the bowlers who challenged Sunny G during his prime years, and no head would’ve survived taking a blow from one of these. Forget facing them, just the list of names strikes fear down a batsman’s throat.

He made sure he got wood on the ball every time he faced one of these legends, and he did so quite beautifully. Gavaskar demystified fear with unparalleled courage, combined elegance and grit in the most beautiful way possible – helping his team believe in the impossible, while etching his golden-lettered name in cricketing legends.

Owner of stats and stories like no one else

Not Sir Donald Bradman, Sir Jack Hobbs, WG Grace or even the likes of Sachin Tendulkar or Brian Lara – No cricketer managed 774 runs in their debut series. This came against West Indies, in the Caribbean Islands.

Also Read: India vs England, 4th Test, Day 2: Rishabh Pant bamboozles England with his smashing hundred

People managed to witness the funny side of the great man during his broadcasting career, but his cricketing stats, some of them, represented his swagger.

No cricketer in Test history scored more centuries against West Indies, a side that was the greatest during his times. To be the best, you beat the best – Gavaskar did that, time and again.

He once made 438 look chaseable at the Oval, and also grinded one of India’s greatest wins at the Port of Spain alongside his brother-in-law. He bowled bouncers to the immortal Rohan Kanhai, and not to forget, his solitary ODI century came off just 88 deliveries.

Above all of these, the first-ever cricketer to hit five digits in the run-scoring tally – A landmark he achieved at the same stadium where India are playing today, the Motera.

The number of boxes he ticked over those illustrious 16 years leaves jaws dropped, and he paved way for the next generation of world-beaters in Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman, Sourav Ganguly, Mohammed Azharuddin and others.

Blips here and there, but stood the test of time

Sunny Gavaskar was a man of steely resolve, with lesser words than the runs he scored during his playing days. But the broadcaster he went on to become was a different person altogether.

He’s had his share of downs in the com-box, perhaps a few more than his time as a player, but he stood firm against every tide and continued in the field almost twice as long as his playing career.

Without a modicum of self-doubt, Sunny Gavaskar remained at the top of his game and to have done that for five decades – As a cricketer and a broadcaster – He remains in the elite company of WG Grace, Sir Donald Bradman, Richie Benaud, Geoffrey Boycott and a very few others, who dedicated a lifetime to their game, and quite brilliantly.

He seemed a little different today, a bit overwhelmed perhaps by the love showering from every corner, tried to deflect the attention many a number of times back to the game, but not often we get to celebrate 50 years of greatness. Hence, the day totally belongs to him.

Longevity, legacy, legendary – Gavaskar is Indian cricket’s one of a kind.

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