Mumbai: Sunil Manohar Gavaskar, born on July 10, 1949 is one of the legends that the modern game of cricket has seen, born in a Brahmin family in Mumbai, Gavaskar went on to become one of the best opening batsman in the world. Today on his birthday we throw light on the life of this great achiever.
Widely regarded as one of the greatest opening batsmen in cricket history, Gavaskar set world records during his career for the most Test runs and most Test centuries scored by any batsman. He held the record of 34 Test centuries for almost two decades before it was broken by Sachin Tendulkar in December 2005.
Gavaskar was widely admired for his technique against fast bowling, with a particularly high average of 65.45 against the West Indies, who possessed a four-pronged fast bowling attack regarded as the most vicious in Test history. His captaincy of the Indian team, however, was less successful. The team at one stage went 31 Test matches without a victory. There were incidents like crowd displeasure at Eden Gardens in Calcutta leading to multiple matches being disrupted, in response to the poor performance of the Indian team. Turbulent performances of the team led to multiple exchanges of captaincy between Gavaskar and Kapil Dev, with one of Gavaskar's sackings coming just six months before Kapil led India to victory at the 1983 Cricket World Cup.
Gavaskar was also a fine slip fielder and his safe catching in the slips helped him become the first Indian (excluding wicket-keepers) to take over a hundred catches in Test matches. In one ODI against Pakistan in Sharjah in 1985, he took four catches and helped India defend a small total of 125. Early in his Test career, when India rarely used pace bowlers, Gavaskar also opened the bowling for a short spell on occasions if only one pace bowler was playing, before a three-pronged spin attack took over. The only wicket claimed by him is that of Pakistan's Zaheer Abbas in 1978-79.
Gavaskar has also been awarded the Padma Bhushan. In December 1994 he was appointed the Sheriff of Mumbai, an honorary post, for a year. After retirement, he has been a popular, if sometimes controversial commentator, both on TV and in print. Sunil is married to Marshniel Gavaskar , daughter of a leather industrialist in Kanpur. They have a son Rohan, who played for Bengal.