Gavaskar, Tendulkar heap lavish praise on Gaekwad

Mumbai, May 20: Former India captain Sunil Gavaskar on Friday said Anshuman Gaekwad has given Indian cricket everything as a player, as a coach, as an administrator and as a selector. Gavaskar also praised his former teammate for showing guts against the menacing West Indian fast bowlers early on in his career.

Gavaskar who released Gaekwad’s biography ‘Guts Amidst Bloodbath’ at the C.K. Nayudu Hall at CCI in Mumbai on Friday evening, recalled his days opening for India alongside the former and the blow he took on his head during the Jamaica Test in 1976. The occasion was graced by six former Indian cricket captains.

India’s pride Sachin Tendulkar, Gundapa Vishwanath, Sunil Gavaskar, Dilip Vengsarkar, Ravi Shastri and Kapil Dev all related choice anecdotes voicing their unstinted praise for Gaekwad.  Roger Binny, the present BCCI chief, Yajuvindra Singh, Karsan Ghavri, Zaheer Khan, Abey Kuruvilla, Nayan Mongia to name a few also showed up. Publisher and Editor Sachin Bajaj, founder of Global Cricket School and Aditya Bhushan who penned the book, also graced the dais.

Gavaskar recalled how he accompanied Gaekwad to the hospital in an ambulance. “We had to take him to a hospital. The fact that Anshu showed the guts that he did, every time there was a series against the West Indies, Anshu was always recalled to the team. If it was West Indies, it was Anshu, but if it was some other series, it was some other partner… because of his guts.

“And so those are the guts we have seen on the field, guts to speak his mind off the field as well, which is why he is what he is – a very well respected figure in Indian cricket,” he said.   

Meanwhile, Sachin Tendulkar termed playing under former India coach Anshuman Gaekwad as some of the “better years” of his cricketing career and that he was someone who could always be trusted.

Gaekwad was India coach for about two years — 1997 to 1999 — and some of Tendulkar’s best innings, including the two ODI centuries against Australia in Sharjah fondly remembered as the ‘Desert Storm’, came during his tenure.

“I was really fortunate to spend time with him (Gaekwad) when he was our coach. Possibly, I had better cricketing years of my life when he was our coach. We would have discussions on my batting and the approach I should have,” Tendulkar said

Another couple of words instantly come to mind, when envisioning his famous repartee against the West Indies’ pace battery swarming against him and the Indians. True Grit, that well-known moniker of a famous John Wayne movie, could easily be used when describing Gaekwad standing up to the might of the Windies Pacemen. 

His magnificent innings of 82, before retiring hurt, is a testament to his bravery and courage, even as half of the Indian batsmen had to retire hurt in what was the Windies repartee to the infamous Bodyline series.

Of the total 40 Tests that Anshuman played, 22 were against Windies on immensely lively ticking pitches. In tandem with Sunil Gavaskar, he provided more than stability at the top of the order. His partnerships with Sunny yielded 1722 runs in 49 innings which makes them the fourth all-time best opening pair for India in terms of runs scored.

On a day when praise came in from all quarters, Anshu spoke about his devotion for the game for 55 years. Besides being a national selector, he has also coached the Gujarat team and was a former secretary of the Baroda Cricket Association. He is currently the President of the Indian Cricketers Association (ICA).

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