PRITAM SENGUPTA writes from New Delhi: The former India captain S. Venkataraghavan has finally broken his silence (somewhat) on Sunil Gavaskar‘s mind-numbingly disgusting batting performance in the first World Cup in 1975, in which the opener scored 36 not out off 174 balls in a 60-over match, with one, yes one, rousing four.
“He let the side down, he let his country down, he let spectators down,” Venkataraghavan, who was the captain of the Indian team for the tournament, said in an interview yesterday with Indian Express editor Shekhar Gupta on NDTV’s programme, Walk the Talk.
India were set a target of 335 by England at Lord’s on June 7, 1975, in the opening round of the Cup—and India ended up with 132 for 3, losing by a gargantuan 202 runs.
Gavaskar was booed and heckled all through his innings, and one spectator was pissed off enough to dump his lunch at the Bombay opener’s feet. The Cricketer magazine wrote: “It was a perverse moment of self-inflicted shame.”
# Karsan Ghavri has admitted that messages were sent to Gavaskar but “he was just concentrating on his game and it never bothered him at all at that time.”
# G.S. Ramchand, India’s manager, said that Gavaskar had considered the England score unobtainable before the start of the Indian innings and so had taken “practice”.
All kinds of theories have been advanced to explain Gavaskar’s incredible knock. Some have said that the Indians were unused to the one-day format; that they were unaware that “even if India lost (in chasing the huge total), the more runs they scored, the better the chance of reaching the semi-finals.”
Gavaskar himself has said in his autobiography Sunny Days that he was out of form. He has said he tried everything he could to up the scoring rate, but the shots just kept going to the fielders. “There were occasions I felt like moving away from the stumps so I would be bowled.”
But, as usual, the conspiracy theories abound.
One theory is that Gavaskar was unhappy with the selection of the team, especially the decision to ditch the team’s reliance on spinners in favour of seamers. Another theory is that he was annoyed that Venkataraghavan had been made captain for the World Cup.
The former England captain Tony Lewis wrote: “His cussedness could quite easily have been formed before the match by matters of selection, his hotel bedroom or even the nightly meal allowance…. Whatever the motives were he had no right to force them on the sponsors (Prudential Assurance) who have put £100,000 into cricket this summer, or on the 16,274 spectators who paid £19,000 to watch.”
Ted Dexter, then a commentator for BBC, was even more unscathing in his criticism. He said that Gavaskar should have been pulled from the field by his captain and censured by the ICC. In the end, the BCCI slammed Gavaskar but the stigma of having played the most controversial one-day innings has stuck.
But the 36 not out is not the only Gavaskar blemish in an otherwise extraordinary career of masterful technique, temperament and tactics.
# In Australia, as captain, he pulled his co-opener Chetan Chauhan to the edge of the boundary threatening to walk out of a Test match when given out lbw.
# In Bangalore, in a Ranji Trophy match, Gavaskar batted left-handed against Karnataka when Bombay was on its way to a famous defeat.
Questions: Is Gavaskar, for all his grace, for all his guts, for all his grit, for all his wisdom, quite the most petulant and peevish cricketer to have worn the India colours? A player never quite able to place his team’s and his State’s and country’s interests above that of his own? Is this why, for all his runs and record, Gavaskar has never been as popular as Kapil Dev or his brother-in-law Gundappa Ranganath Vishwanath? Tell.
Im not a great cricket fan but I know Gavaskar was indeed a white elephant on the Indian side even as he was playing. The story that was he was kept on the Indian side just to creat a record. We all knew about that. Another was Ravi Shastri. Because of these two ‘great’ cricketers India lost many a match.
I remember this “phenomenal” innings. I was 12 years old, visiting my grandparents home in Mysore and taking an early morning walk with my Grandfather who made his customary stop at Cheluvamba park to “discuss” the news with his friends (just to show how certain events become engrained).
Even then my reaction was “He could have done better than that”… in fact when he captained India to a win at the Champions Cup in Australia in ’86 (??), my first reaction was to wonder why he couldnt have given the same effort in 1975… he wasnt the captain then…
When Vishy scored a century, India almost always won, the same is not true of his “Commercial minded” brother-in-law.
I wish more players come out with the `truth’ about Gavaskar. He needs to be exposed for the good of the Indian cricket team. He should be shown as an example of how a cricketer should not be. Without him and Shastri, India would have won far more matches than they did. Whenever Gavaskar scored a double hundred, you knew those matches would be dead. I get irrirated whenever someone points out his test record to indicate what a great cricketer he was. Volumes don’t matter, value does. That 40-odd runs scored by Kumble mattered a lot in the win against West Windies. I remember as a boy, I was introduced to Gavaskar and Vishwanath by my uncle during a Ranji match in which Gavaskar batted left handed. I immediately took out my note book to get Vishwanath’s autograph and so did others who had collected around them. While we waited patiently for our turns to get Vishwanath to sign, none others really thrust their note books into Gavaskar’s hands. We had taken our revenge and how victorius we felt.
There was another incident in a test (don’t remember when though) against Pakistan. The match was clearly heading for a draw, and Pakistan wanted to stop the game (as is generally the custom). But Gavaskar going for his century, didn’t accept the draw offer and kept playing. But when he reached his century, he just walked back to the pavilion signalling the end of the test, much to Pakistan’s chagrin, who wanted to continue.
This can be related, vis-à-vis, to Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid, isn’t it? :P
Goldstar, Nice one!
Gavaskar was asking centuries. he is a record holder only but never a great cricketer. Its cheap to compare him with the kapils and gundappas.
I also remember his last world cup, and one of the company promised a payments of cash for every six and four. This bugger scored more than 90% of his runs with boundaries alone.
Junk fellow he was!
Here is the link to the relevant match:
Notice that the Pakistan bowler Mudassir Nazar was not allowed to even complete his over. Gavaskar coolly walked off once his century was over.
Vishy was not only a far greater batsman but also a far greater human being when compared to Gavaskar. Its no secret that Gavaskar played only for his records. For example, when it comes to giving credit to good players, Gavaskar’s partisan attitude to Bombay players is too well known, so also his differences with Kapil. Certainly Vishy is much more loved and admired than Gavaskar.
Gavaskar was the most irritating player on the Indian side. I don’t even remember one performance when he was up to the mark. He never player for his team or his country. This really shows his character. Frankly, media should shun this guy and not provide him any space (he still writes columns in many sports pages!!).
He may have scored a lot of runs, but how many times did he lead his team to victory with his centuries? Compare his record with others from his generation who genuinly tried to earn victories. Just another selfish cricketer from Mumbai.
ಕಿಲ ಕಿಲಾ ಅಯ್ಯಯ್ಯಪ್ಪಾ!!
ಅಯ್ಯಪ್ಪಾ… ಏನಪ್ಪಾ… ಎಲ್ಲಾರೂ ನಮ್ ಹುಡುಗನ್ನ ಬಯ್ಯುತ್ತಾ ಇದ್ದೀರಾ?
ಏನೊ ಪಾಪ, ಇಷ್ಟು ಕಷ್ಟ ಪಟ್ಟು ಹನ್ನೊಂದು ಸಾವಿರಕ್ಕೂ ಹೆಚ್ಚು ರನ್ನುಗಳನ್ನು ಮಾಡಿದ್ದರೂ ಹೀಗಂತೀರಲ್ಲಪ್ಪ? ನಮ್ ಹುಡುಗಂಗೆ ಎಷ್ಟು ಬೇಜಾರಾಗಲ್ಲ? ನೀವೆ ಹೇಳಿ?
೧೯೭೫ರಲ್ಲಿ ಹೂಳಿರೋ ಹೆಣ ಮತ್ತೆ ಯಾಕೆ ಮೇಲಕ್ಕೆ ತೆಗೀತೀರ? ಬಿಟ್ಟುಬಿಡಿ, ಪಾಪ, ಈ ನಡುವೆ ಕಾಮೆಂಟರಿ ಕೆಲಸನೂ ಸಿಕ್ತಾ ಇಲ್ಲ, ಮಗ ಅಂತೂ ಉಂಡಾಡಿ ಗುಂಡ ಇದ್ದ ಹಾಗೆ ಇದ್ದಾನೆ….. ಬದುಕಿಕೊಳ್ಳಲಿ…
Let us not forget the fact that Gavaskar was a very talented cricketer. It is not easy to score over 30 centuries and over 10,000 runs if you are average. That’s exactly the reason why most of us dislike Gavaskar. In spite of being a very talented cricketer he chose to chase records and not help the country win matches. When he writes in his columns about how the current set of cricketers don’t put a price to their wicket and that they should always have the interest of the team in mind, he sounds shallow.
To give him credit, he is resposible for the current set of cricketers making so much money.. he was the original “mercenary”.
It is a pity that these self declared heroes of cricket are now the pundits to whom we have to listen to during a match. Quite rightly Ponting and Hayden have told that the sub continental players play more for personal glory than for their country or team. At least now we are seeing some players who are there with a team spirit.
all said ..Gavaskar was my Idol .if not for anything .For his perfect stance and technically sound batting . who can forget his illustrious innings in the windies against that deadly attack and reason behind Ajit Wadekar triumph. Recently I read an interview of Wes Hall and Holding.They both acknowledged that Gavaskar was an all perfect batsman of any time .
Only he and only Gavaskar could tame the fiery trio of Roberts,Holding and Marshal . Can anyone dispute that ?
There are two aspects- genius of Gavasakar and his petulant behavior. Some quarters even attribute he was the original fixer too.
You talk about he batting left handed at Chimnnawany stadium as petulant. For one to bat left handed against the rampaging EASP, BS and still survive is no joke. It was a challenge, which the famed star spinners failed miserably. Then why call it petulant? There is no ambiguity about he being a poor one-day batsman. He has only one century to show in 108 matches. This cannot be an accident and clearly amplifies his failure to score in 1975. Remember those were the early days of one day cricket and despite his stupendous performance in West Indies during his debut tour of 1970/71 his performance in England in 1971 was very mediocre .In all of 18 one day matches played in England (1974-1986) this infamous 65 was his highest. Record shows that he was indeed a poor one-day batsman and was at his worst in England.
I think this (Gavskar batting left handed) happened during the 1981-82 Ranji season. In the previous match he had scored 340 runs (against Bengal if I remember correctly). In the match against Karnataka, he made 40 runs and somebody supposedly commented – “only 300 runs less.” He resorted to batting left handed as a protest against the crowd which erupted during at various times in the match. But when it seems that an innings defeat was in store, he resorted to the normal (right handed) style.
I am not sure if EAS & BS were around then.
This was the same season when Karnataka faced Delhi in the final & both teams made huge scores. Delhi won with Mohinder Amarnath’s help.
Disclaimer: I am relying on what I had read in news reports at that time. So cannot be fully sure of all the facts :)
Thanks Prasad for exposing my faux pas !
Yes it was a match in 1982 (11, 12, 13, 14 March 1982) and the leading bowlers were Binny, Viajayakrishna and Raghuram Bhat. Gavaskar remained unconquered at 18 and saved Bombay the ignominy of a innings defeat.
Thanks for the additional input. I was only trying to provide some information on the incident and did not mean to correct. I too was not sure about who the bowlers were :)
But as you rightly pointed out, Gavaskar till the very end of his career did not adapt too well to the one-day format. On the other hand his test career was a totally different story. He was a test player to the core in the way he planned his innings.
I think it was only in 84-85 during the World Championship in Australia that he showed his flair (as a captain) in ODIs and later he did have a few good one day innings with the bat as well.
About the incident in Australia when he threatened to walk off, I have read positive reports. The umpiring (from the Indian point of view) was not good with many decisions going in favour of the Aussies. WHen this incident happened, Gavaskar felt he was not out & wanted to register his protest. The team manager asked the team to continue playing & India won that match to draw the series. Till then, the Indian team was generally known to be very well behaved and accept unfair decisions without protest. In fact even the board did not usually support the team in such cases. That incident though controversial found some acceptance with the Indian supporters.
To open the innings and be able to handle fast bowling that could well have been balls blasted out of a rampaging cannon.
Where one infinitesimal error in judgment can sound finis!
To show the pluck, the guts and the nerve to stand up to a demonic assault on the mind, over after over, in an era when some of the most shockingly deadly fast bowlers operated in packs.
Like hounds on the hunt.
To keep the concentration going for hours on end.
And not be affected by your team mates, save a Gundappa Vishwanath perhaps or a Mohinder amarnath sporadically, almost running away like cowards, towards square leg in the face of menacing hostility.
To be able to hold fort amidst the crumbling ruins of nerveless capitulation. In not one, but a dozen series perhaps.
And Gavaskar played for himself, eh!
How easy, how irresponsible, how naive, how arrogant on the part of cricket observors to say that Gavaskar was petulant.
Try judging a single in the heat of international competition, my friends!
And then perhaps, you can go on to get 34 hundreds!
Now let me symbolically get up from the arm chair on behalf of all the baiters of this world who say, ‘Gavaskar? He played for himself’!
One more reason as why Gavaskar is good for nothing
Long before the victory at Adelaide in 2003, India had a good shot at taking the lead in a Test series in Australia but they were thwarted by an innings of magnificent doggedness from Allan Border. Trailing by 183, Australia had slipped to 161 for 6 with more than a day’s play remaining. Border single-handedly took Australia into the fifth day, and with bad weather forecast, he frustrated India for 115 minutes with last man Dave Gilbert. India – Sunil Gavaskar, who made 8 off 54 balls, in particluar – showed no urgency in chasing 125 and rain washed out the final session with the score on 59 for 2
But Kapil Dev was the captain!!! As a captain he could have come as an opener and finished the game if he wanted Or could have sent Azza or colonel or Roger . Even Srikkanath who scored 86 in the first innings out of 89 balls scored just 38 out of 61 balls in the second! Even Amarnath a die hard Kapil man wasted 27 balls to score ameasely 3 ! So Kapil either just missed a golden opportunity by his own poor captaincy OR as every one knows Melbourne weather is the most finicky and rain was just one of those things which happened from no where !
However good a player is, it is the contribution which accounts. Strangely, as per stats India has lost many games when Sachin has scored a century and might have never lost when Vishi scored.
One should compare now the stats when Sachin and Rahul scores, who have helped to win/draw a test.
He did scuttle team India while in his playing days. Now a days He plays dirty politics. He wastes no time in criticizing team selection or coach selection.
He is scumbag and a liability to the county.
‘“He let the side down, he let his country down, he let spectators down,” Venkataraghavan, who was the captain of the Indian team for the tournament, said in an interview yesterday with Indian Express editor Shekhar Gupta on NDTV’s programme, Walk the Talk.’
venkat the captain in 1975? i thought it was bedi. venky captained in 1979.
if you are spelling out gundappa’s name, might as well match it with kapil dev ramlal nikhanj (unless you didn’t know it). ;-)
Gavaskar is known for getting in controversies and may be his adament nature. But all said, Gavaskar socred in era when Test cricket was real test and there were quality fast bowlers around. If he would have played against today’s generation bolwers and on not so challenging conditions, he would have averaged more than 75 in Test. At the same time any current player from Indian side would not have averaged more than 40/45 at the most, if they played in the era of Gavaskar.