26 Unknown Facts, Stats & Crazy Trivia About Sunil Gavaskar
Once, Gavaskar batted left handed in a first class game to protest against a poor track – and remained not out!
It's been a while since Sunil Gavaskar (the asli Little Master) played for India, conquered the world and retired from cricket. But memories of his extraordinary achievements, his wonderful craft and immense contribution to Indian cricket remain permanently etched in memory.
SMG was a cricket giant, a 24-carat pure, unadulterated deal. His bat and the numbers tell a story – as he went past batting milestones and set records too many to recount. Enough to say SMG was the first to reach cricket's Mt Everest – 10,000 test runs – and when he put his kitbag away, only The Don had made more test hundreds than his 34.
But numbers don’t convey even half of SMG’s story. In his time, he may have opened the innings, but after him, India's batting shut down as the tail started near the top. A General without an army, SMG fought alone to avoid defeat.
Armed with superb batting technique, SMG carried his team in splendid fashion on more than one occasion, defeating the quickest of bowlers in the game. Driven and determined, he was always in line but never on the back-foot, so to speak. He might not have batted with the India flag on his panama cap but, in the middle, the tricolour seemed to flutter proudly above his head.
Having known, and interviewed the legend on more than a few occasions, here’s simply sharing the many tidbits of trivia about him and his career I have gathered over the years.
In a career that spanned over 17 years, “Sunny” Gavaskar created many domestic and international cricketing records.
Also Read: 5 Big Records Broken by Sunil Gavaskar
There are many more, most that may have been forgotten in the 30+ years since he walked away from the game. His 71st birthday seems like a good time to clean the cobwebs.
- In 1987, when Gavaskar announced his retirement, he had amassed a massive 10,122 test runs. For context, it could be said that the feat was equal to that of Roger Bannister running the sub 4 minute mile, or a sprinter clocking less than 10 seconds for 100 meters.
- Throughout his career, SMG made what Rahul Dravid calls 'tough runs', against bowling that was not just demanding, but deadly.
- He scored 13 test hundreds against the West Indies, a feat unequalled by any other batsmen – that too without a helmet, with ordinary pads and a flimsy elbow guard! Wickets those days were quicker, and bowlers could bowl 6 bouncers every over.
- SMG's batting was built on great technique – he picked length early and watched the ball till late.
- His trademark shot was the straight drive past the bowler.
- Imran Khan rated SMG the hardest batsman to dismiss – the best batsman he bowled to.
- Bishan Bedi says SMG is one batsman he would pick to save a test.
- Dilip Doshi has said he feels SMG's greatness lies in never being hit on the body by any bowler.
- He scored 774 runs with 4 hundreds in his debut series against the West Indies.
- SMG's highest score in England was 221 at the Oval.
- He did not make a test hundred at Lord's but scored 188 in the Bicentennial match, ultimately dismissed caught and bowled by Ravi Shastri.
- During the 1975 World Cup SMG played the infamous innings – 36 not out in a 60 over game.
- In 1987, he made a 88 ball hundred in a one day game.
- Gary Sobers is his all-time hero, possibly the greatest cricketer after Don Bradman.
- Gavaskar rates Viv Richards very high and respects Javed Miandad for combative batting.
- He found Malcolm Marshall the toughest bowler to face.
- He may have opened the innings for India, but SMG always preferred not to take first strike.
- Gavaskar was known to not look at the scoreboard while batting but knew instinctively when he was close to a landmark.
- He popularised light weight batting pads (with two straps), also used by Sachin Tendulkar.
- He rates his century at Old Trafford in 1974 as one of his best.
- Gavaskar was infamous for not sledging, he wasn't sledged at either, because opposing teams realised it made him more determined.
- He follows tennis closely but his favourite sport is badminton, which he played regularly at Bombay Gymkhana.
- Gavaskar was out on zero on his Ranji debut. He later scored a hundred in a Ranji final. However, he was dropped in the next game.
- SMG left international cricket quietly, without making a formal announcement – after making 96 (caught bat -pad) on a dusty Bangalore pitch in 1986 when India lost to Pakistan. Till date date, he won't reveal whether he nicked that ball.
- Once, he batted left handed in a first-class game to protest against a poor track – and remained not out!
- He played once with a Duncan Fearnley bat that had 4 small holes in the blade. He said this improved aerodynamics and enabled an easier 'pickup'.
Stats, trivia and numbers aside, during his playing days, SMG stood up for Indian cricket and his sustained excellence brought self respect to the team. As captain, he was known for his strong views and built a reputation that he was someone you would rather not mess with. As a player, SMG gave Indian cricket a spine; and now, he is its voice; As an elder statesman and ambassador of India, he is respected worldwide.
Extremely articulate and insightful, SMG has his finger firmly on cricket's pulse. It is said his brain is like a computer and what he does not know about cricket is not worth knowing.
(This story is being republished from The Quint’s archives on the occasion of Sunil Gavaskar’s 71st birthday)
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