Sandeep Patil Spills The Beans On His Favourite Gavaskar Memories
Former Indian cricketer Sandeep Patil reminisces Sunil Gavaskar’s career on the latter’s 69th birthday.
I consider myself honoured to be part of my good old friend Sunil Gavaskar’s cricketing journey. The reason I am saying this is because before he got picked for the Indian team or Mumbai Ranji team, he used to play for Mumbai University.
In the year 1970, Mumbai University team was playing in Pune in an intercity tournament and my father was the manager of a particular team. Being a cricket buff from my childhood, my father invited me to watch Mumbai University play in that tournament.
In the very same tournament, Sunil Gavaskar scored a century and a double century in one match. He got selected for the Indian team for the tour of West Indies in 1971 and I can proudly say that after his performance in the Caribbean, he became a household name in the country.
Records tumbled and runs piled up during his cricketing career but Sunil Gavaskar remained humble even after so much success. In the year 1976, I got picked for the Mumbai Ranji team and I consider myself very lucky as I shared the same dressing room and sat on his right side for the next 11 years as he used to consider me as his lucky mascot.
Perfect Role Model
I have seen Gavaskar from close quarters as he was a family friend and still is for me. He remained a role model not only as a cricketer but as a person as well. Cricketing fraternity knows him as a model student of the game, a perfect son to his parents, a perfect father to his kids. And above all a perfect friend too.
Sunil Gavaskar, during his cricketing days, remained a perfectionist. He not only remained a self-disciplined person but also full of dedication, concentration and patience.
For me he was not only a genius cricketer and captain but also a big brother and philosopher. From 1970 to now, cricket has changed, cricketing formats have changed but Sunil Gavaskar has remained the same.
Travelled in Trains & AC Buses for Benefit Matches
It’s impossible for anybody who has played with Gavaskar or knows him to write or to express in an article because you have to know him very closely. If there is one cricketer who has helped another cricketer in participating in benefit matches it is Gavaskar. He never shied away from responsibility and even crossed limits for players’ cause.
I have seen him playing in a Test match and then taking a train or an AC bus to any part of India just to appear in a players’ benefit match. Times have changed, thinking has changed, focus has changed but Gavaskar remains good old Gavaskar.
He is even today just a call away, whether he is in India or abroad. I have not seen a more committed, punctual and helpful person in my life.
Gavaskar Saved Me From Early Retirement
As a young Mumbai cricketer Sunil Gavaskar advised me about the importance of scoring hundreds and even helped me get them. During my international cricketing career I thought twice about retiring but Gavaskar tore my resignation letters, which I wanted to submit to the BCCI, and put his arm around my shoulder.
After I was seriously hit in the head during the 1980-81 tour of Australia, it was Gavaskar who gave me courage to take the bat again, otherwise that 174 would not have happened.
During the 1982 England series, I was sure to be dropped after the first Test but it was Sunil Gavaskar who picked me for the Old Trafford Test. Eventually, I hit six boundaries in an over and went on to score 129.
Gavaskar Used to Act Like Dev Anand
If one has to learn the real meaning of energy then one has to learn it from Sunil Gavaskar. The amount of travelling he is doing even at his age is amazing. After his late night broadcasting duties, he also attends his friends’ parties.
Gavaskar comes across as a very focused, serious and disciplined person when we see him on TV. But very few know that he is one of the best mimic artists at parties. His observation is so perfect that it takes him only a few seconds to mimic a person and he is brilliant at that.
If I was known as the most mischievous person in our Indian team, Gavaskar was the master of it. He was the director of all the pranks I played on cricketers. When he used to be in top mood during parties he would act like Dev Anand, copying the actor’s acting, walking or dancing style.
Gavaskar Was the Best Financial Adviser
Gavaskar always remained available for all Indian cricketers for cricketing or personal matters. He was always ready with advice. But for me he was the best financial adviser for all his teammates.
Almost all who played alongside him are financially very settled and it happened only because we got financial advice from the little master. In the end I would like to wish him a very happy birthday and hope he will remain a perfect role model for future generations as well.
(Former India cricketer Sandeep Patil played 29 Tests and 45 ODIs from January 1980 to May 1986. Patil scored 1588 runs in Tests and 1005 runs in ODIs.)
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