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Gavaskar@75: 15 Interesting Facts

By REDIFF CRICKET
July 10, 2024 06:25 IST
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Cricket icon Sunil Gavaskar celebrates a magnificent 75th birthday on July 10th.

Sunil Gavaskar, known for his fearless batting, started his Test career on March 6, 1971.

He went on to become the first cricketer to score over 10,000 Test runs, accumulating a staggering 10,122 runs with 34 centuries in 125 matches.

While his ODI record was respectable with 3,093 runs in 108 matches, Test cricket was where he truly dominated.

15 facts about Sunil Gavaskar you need to know:

1. 13 Test centuries against the West Indies

Sunil Gavaskar

All Photographs: Kind Courtesy Sunil Gavaskar/Instagram

Gavaskar, during his career, scored 13 Test centuries against the mighty West Indies. Their bowling unit comprised of the likes of Malcolm Marshall, Michael Holding and Andy Roberts.

Gavaskar's 13 centuries against the Windies is the maximum by any Indian against one single opposition. Overall, it is in second place with Don Bradman at the top with 19 centuries against England.

2. 188 at Lord's in MCC Bicentennial game

In his international career, Gavaskar never scored a hundred at Lord's. But in the MCC Bicentennial game between the MCC and the Rest of the World XI, Gavaskar smashed 188 for the ROW XI, when he came out to open the innings. He missed out on a double ton as he was caught and bowled by Ravi Shastri.

3. First player to 10,000 Test runs

Sunil Gavaskar

IMAGE: SG with SG bats!

On March 7, 1987, Gavaskar became the first batter to score 10,000 Test runs. He reached the landmark in his 124th Test against Pakistan.

4. Almost switched at birth

Soon after he was born, he was exchanged with a fisherman's child at the maternity hospital. An alert uncle, Narayan Masurekar, who had spotted a birthmark near the baby's left ear, raised a ruckus before Sunny (he hadn't been named yet) was restored to his mother.

5. Cricketing family

Gavaskar's maternal uncle Madhav Mantri played four Tests for India and inspired his young nephew to take up the game.

Gavaskar's younger sister Nutan played for the Albees Cricket Club -- the first women's cricket club in Mumbai -- and was honorary general secretary of the Women's Cricket Association of India.

6. Personal life

Left-arm spinner Dilip Doshi, by the way, it is said, introduced Marshneil -- 'Pammi', as Sunny and her family call her -- to the young batter in 1973 and the couple married on September 23, 1974.

His youngest sister Kavita married Sunny's team-mate, Gundappa Viswanath, inarguably the most elegant Indian batsman of his era.

7. Names his son after his batting idol

Sunil Gavaskar

IMAGE: Sunil Gavarkar with son Rohan and grandson Vivaan. Photograph: Kind Courtesy Sunil Gavaskar/Instagram

His only child Rohan, who was born when Gavaskar was away in New Zealand back in February 1976, represented India in 11 One-Day Internationals.

Marshneil and Sunil named Rohan after the great West Indian batter Rohan Kanhai.

Rohan's lesser known middle name JaiVishwa is an amalgam of his father's favourite Indian batters -- M L Jaisimha and G R Vishwanath.

8. Haircut during a match

Believe it or not, but Gavaskar once got a haircut on the field from an umpire during a Test match.

In the first Test against England at Manchester, Gavaskar got a haircut in the middle of the match from Umpire Dickie Bird at Old Trafford.

Batting amid windy conditions Gavaskar was annoyed with his hair blocking his sight. He requested Dickie Bird to trim his hair. The umpire took the pair of scissors he used to cut the threads from the seam of the cricket ball to do so. Gavaskar went on to score a brave 101 in the match, but England won the Test by 202 runs.

9. Never looked at scoreboards

Sunil Gavaskar

IMAGE: Gavaskar promotes brother-in-law Gundappa Viswanath's autobiography, Wrist Assured.

Gavaskar was known to not look at the scoreboard while batting, but knew instinctively when he was close to a landmark.

10. Batted left-handed in a Ranji game

Gavaskar batted left-handed in the Ranji Trophy semi-final against Karnataka in the 1981-1982 season.

This he did to counter left-arm spinner Raghuram Bhatt. While he batted left-handed against Bhatt, he switched to batting right-handed when batting against B Vijayakrishna.

11. He was a wrestling fan

Sunil Gavaskar

IMAGE: Sunil Gavaskar has a ground named after him in Leicester, United Kingdom.

Gavaskar wanted to be a wrestler and was a big fan of the legendary Maruti Vadar before opting for cricket. The ambition to play for India came to him when he saw the Indian team pullovers of his mama Madhav Mantri.

When he asked if he could have one of the pullovers, Mantri told him sternly that they had to be earned.

12. Leg byes to start his career

Gavaskar's first runs in Test cricket were actually leg byes that were not given. He revealed this fact in his autobiography Sunny Days.

'As I took strike after Ashok (Mankad) had got three runs, I was a little afraid that I might not be up to the mark. (Vanburn) Holder thundered down and bowled on the leg stump.

'The ball struck my leg guards and went down to fine leg for two leg byes. But I was surprised to see that the umpire did not make any signal so I was off the mark with two runs when actually I should not have had any.

'This helped me to get rid of the fear of failure and I was soon middling the ball and clipped Holder to the square leg fence for my first boundary in Tests.'

13. A song dedicated to his exploits

Trinidad Calypso singer Lord Relator (Willard Harris) wrote a song in Gavaskar's honour, the Gavaskar Calypso.

It was Gavaskar
De real master
Just like a wall
We couldn't out Gavaskar at all, not at all You know the West Indies couldn't out
Gavaskar at all.

14. The Sheriff

Sunil Gavaskar

IMAGE: Gavaskar with the T20 World Cup trophy.

Gavaskar was appointed Sheriff of Bombay in 1994 for a year.

15. Tryst with showbiz

Gavaskar played a leading role in a Marathi film, Savli Premachi. He sang a Marathi song Ya Dunivemadhye Thambavaala Vel Konala, which drew the similarities between a cricket match and real life.

He also made a special appearance as himself in the Hindi film, Malamaal.

His legendary batting and enduring legacy will continue to inspire generations of players.

Wish him a healthy and happy future!

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