Sunil Gavaskar, the man who introduced Indian cricket to “Sunny Days,” is 75 years old.

Sunil Gavaskar

Sunil Gavaskar
Sunil Gavaskar

To this day, Gavaskar’s contemporaries remember the great right-hander with fondness, having faced some of the most vicious speed bowlers to have ever lived.

Being consistently relevant in a world that is constantly changing is challenging. Unless, of course, one is Sunil Gavaskar, who on Wednesday is commemorating the end of 75 memorable summers in his life.

Young cricket fans of today, who have grown up watching IPL blockbusters, sometimes have a shrunken mental image of Gavaskar, the former cricket player turned commentator, making it difficult for them to fully comprehend the significance of the player.

There are far too many of them now. Or maybe it’s the tilt towards recency.

Still, Gavaskar is revered by his peers, who remember the right-hand great with affection despite the fact that he faced some of the fastest pace bowlers to have ever lived.

Two years after I retired, Gavaskar made his debut. However, the late Ajit Wadekar informed us of a gifted Bombay youngster who had the potential to score a lot of runs for his country. “Didn’t he make a lot of runs?” exclaimed Chandu Borde, a former batter for India.

So how did Gavaskar defeat those vicious West Indian quicks from his very first series in 1971? It’s his unwavering focus and methodical approach. He had the best stance I had ever seen, and he paid such close attention to the ball. He could play most of the shots, of course, but he made good use of them. Borde described him as a “very practical batsman who knew what to do when.”

In that series, Gavaskar amassed 774 runs to aid India’s 1-0 victory over the West Indies. “Lord Relator” immortalized that victory by dedicating a calypso to the outstanding batting.

Gavaskar was the one. The true master. similar to a wall. The line, “We couldn’t out Gavaskar at all, not at all,” is still chilling today, as he wrote.

Although Gavaskar’s skill against pacers like Andy Roberts, Michael Holding, Malcolm Marshall, and Imran Khan is well-known, his ability to nullify spinners is an often overlooked part of his batting repertoire.

Abdul Qadir, Pakistan’s Tauseef Ahmed, and England’s John Emburey were among the cunning tweakers of Gavaskar’s time who he outwitted. Gavaskar famously described England’s Derek Underwood as the hardest spinner he had ever faced.

“Sunny could use her soft hands to counteract spin and had excellent footwork.” Former Indian middle-order batsman Mohinder Amarnath, who was also a killer of pacers in the 1980s, observed that “he could play spinners late, and he never really got into awkward positions against them because he used to watch the ball very closely.”

But sometimes he also dressed like an enforcer.

With a six off Marshall, he tied the world record of 29 Test hundreds held by the great Sir Donald Bradman at the time.

Gavaskar’s lone ODI century, which he scored against New Zealand in the 1987 World Cup, actually came off 88 balls.

“Maybe Gavaskar had to play more defensively for India at that time due to the demands of the situation. However, he was always capable of dominating attacks, and he frequently did so on the home circuit. He was as easy to pull as he was to hook,” says Milind Regge, a former Mumbai hitter.

Gavaskar brought a hint of subdued comedy to the commentary box while retaining its adaptability and agility.

Think back to when he made fun of former England pacer Jade Dernbach, who was regarded as a great death over bowler, following his abuse at the hands of Indian hitters in a Twenty20 International.

With a gentle grin, he playfully questioned former England batter turned pundit Michael Vaughan, “Dernbach is a death-over specialist, isn’t it?”

Sunny bhai is a cheerful presence in the box at all times. He is surrounded with never-dull moments. “He is a wealth of stories and never really afraid to voice his opinions,” relates a former cricket player who has spoken with Gavaskar for several hours on the air.

“He is a passionate supporter of Indian cricket and holds strong views on cricket-related issues. Maybe it’s from when he used to play cricket.

“You know, the era when Australia and England ruled world cricket? He claimed that he now wants to see the wheel complete a full circuit.

Gavaskar has also experienced a full circle in this regard.

This article was published from a syndicated feed and has not been edited by The Telegraph Online staff, with the exception of the headline.

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