Saturday, October 25, 2008

Sunil Gavaskar-Role Model Cricketer for Next Generation

CNN IBN Rajdeep Sardesai’s interview with Sachin-Gavaskar
Sunil Gavaskar as a role model

One would have hoped for some new insights from Rajdeep Sardesai’s interview with Sunil(Gavaskar) and Sachin(Tendulkar) but it turned out to be a damp squib. Guess it was meant to be a ‘positive hype’ interview of the two legends of Indian cricket and the aim was not to provide any fresh perspective into the cricketing lives of Sachin and Sunil. In fact, it turned out to be truly disappointing with the two players exchanging compliments.

Could not Rajdeep have asked them to select one other player instead of making it a ‘complimentary session’ for each other. It also seemed Rajdeep had not done enough research into the cricketing lives of the two or may be this interview was not meant for that.

Yesterday’s interview led me to ask if Gavaskar of the 1970s and 1980s was a role model for the next generation, as was kind of positioned in the interview( or may be he was a role model to emulate in terms of the number of runs he scored...but is 'Role Model' defined by the batting or bowling contribution alone) - Yes he did score runs and in tons and thousands. And no denying his great contribution in the number of runs he made, the quality of those runs, the soundest of techniques seen for an Indian opener, his almost flawless catching at first slip and his captaincy.

But was he a role model outside of the runs he made. Read the following:

1. In 1975, when India was chasing 300 plus in 60overs against England in the first World Cup under Venkataraghavan’s captaincy, Gavaskar scored 36 Not Out in 60 overs!!! Is that the mark of a role model- a team player?
2. In 1980-81, he forced his opening partner CPS Chauhan to walk off after being given out LBW to Dennis Lillee in a test in Australia. Was Australia’s biased umpiring in those days and/or Lillee’s provocation (if any) a justifiable reason for the world’s greatest opener to force his partner to walk off the ground in a Test Match!!!
3. In a domestic Ranji Trophy match in the early 1980s and a prestigious and high profile match at that (Bombay v Karnataka was one of the best duels in those days in domestic cricket), Gavaskar shocked one and all deciding to bat left handed, all of a sudden, leaving every one bewildered including the umpires!!! Is this a role model story???
4. In the mid 1980s, Gavaskar captaining India against the touring Zaheer Abbas’s Pakistan refused to agree to an early finish on the final evening when there was no chance of a result(other than a draw)- Reason….. Gavaskar was close to a century!!!! Zaheer protested….but ultimately match had to continue(because match could be called off only if mutually agreed by the two captains) and Gavaskar completed his century….Role Model????
5. Gavaskar dropped Kapil Dev from a test match for that one rash shot (which supposedly cost India the match) against England to teach Kapil a lesson and to make him more responsible….. Role Model!!! For someone who played 60 overs and scored 36 runs, any one playing a shot would be a villain…

While I guess Rajdeep’s interview was a platform to showcase the greatness of these two great Indian cricketers and to that end I think it served its purpose, I wish he had brought out the darker or tougher moments of these two great cricketers and asked as to how they handled those days….

Rajdeep also spoke about the two legends making runs against the toughest of opponents and asked if they moved a notch up playing against tougher opponents. Good line of thought….(Gavaskar against the West Indies and Tendulkar against Australia, but what about Gavaskar’s repeated failures in Australia when his team needed him the most)

For example, what was the dressing room scenario on the evening after Gavaskar batted 60overs for 36 runs or did he ever regret asking his helpless opening partner to walk off in that test in Australia in an embarrassing moment for Indian cricket.

There is no doubting that Gavaskar was the greatest opening bat of his generation and he thwarted many a new ball attack (and some of the best ones at that- yes Marshall, Roberts, Holding, Imran Khan etc…) in his fearless style in the non-helmet days. However, he was no role model… GRV recalling Bob Taylor in the Golden Jubilee test of 1980 was closer to a ‘Role Model’ scenario in what was once called a ‘Gentleman’s game’.


Swaminath said...

Quite true. I didnt catch the CNN IBN inteview, but Rajdeep's questions dont seem to dwell on controversies during Gavaskar's playing days.
What is frustrating is that Gavaskar continues to exert his influence on Indian cricket even now. I wonder how questions posed to Tendulkar were.

Prabhu.S said...

above is the link to that interview


Swaminath said...

Prabhu, thanks a lot! I will surely catch it.
My dislike for the two cricketers might prevent me from switching off half way, though.