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The Meaning Of Sunil Gavaskar To India

Tim Holt
759   //    10 Jul 2011, 14:13 IST

As an old man it always gives me chicken skin the Indian National anthem and the thoughts behind it. For I was born in 1952 and my parents were in India prior to 1947. So I have bore witness to all their stories of the beauty and spirit of the Indian people. Then as I have lived ive seen the emergence of India as an independent Nation away from English rule. To one that is a bastion of pride for all it’s inhabitants.

I could use many individuals or aspects of society to highlight this point that would make you stand up and extol India Jai Hind! Though ill choose one individual in one sport in what is the true passion of all Indian’s
That being Sunil Gavaskar, the original Little Master in the game that all Indians worship in cricket I could trot out all his exceptional figures or wax lyrically about his regal unparalleled batting skill. That both were so impressive that it wouldn’t be out of line to declare that he’d be a near certainty to be included in most experts greatest ever Team.

Irrelevant though when you fully embrace his greater meaning to India. This meaning indelibly shown in the first two lines of India’s National anthem

Thou art the ruler of the minds of all people,

Dispenser of India’s destiny.
Those lines is what Sunny was to become for India……

For as he started his career India was the butt of jokes in the International arena with a record in Tests of 13 wins out of 116 Tests. Thus players had no self esteem and were so accepting of their inevitable fate. They had it drummed into them that they didn’t belong on the World scene and lacked the skill to even compete, let alone win.

He was the Indian antithesis of this challenging it from his first ball in International cricket and eventually ruling the minds of all people with a new destiny.

In a history of being told they were the worst.The gaze in his eyes told a new story of resoluteness and determination that was relentless. He was destined to be the best and India was to be made to not only look respected, but indeed feared.

The legacy of the belief he instilled in others is one of the main reasons why India rule the game today. For he showed anything is possible and in the dire times. He was the one leading the resistance and finding a way to survive and then conquer

An impossible 4th innings target of 406 in 1976 against the West Indies in Trinidad became a watershed moment for India and Gavaskar with Sunny scoring a peerless century. A chase that brought the World of cricket to a standing ovation for it was deemed nigh on impossible. Then such was the consternation felt in the Caribbean that it was a key factor in the dispensing of spinners and the unveiling of the 4 scary fast bowlers

A decision that lead to a West Indies dominance of the game and dismembered and neutralised batsmen of all calibres, but one in Sunil Gavaskar

He ruled them in a manner that brought them to distraction. As if he was surrounded by 4 roaring lions and he made them cowar by the crack of his whip. These flotilla’s of quicks highlighted by the Windies had the cricket World captivated. Quite literally glued to their every move.

Everyone loved them for of the theatre they represented and you can bet the billion Indian’s would have been in shocked awe of them. Though as they witnessed this and their ruling of their game a true legacy was given through Gavaskar ruling the very best.

Mostly through stonewalling with a water tight technique and temperament that was unshakable. He’d nudge and noodle his singles and two’s accumulating whilst he grinded them in body and mind. An impenetrable wall that would make Rahul Dravid look like his wall was made of balsa wood.

That was the role of the opener in those days, but don’t let this fool you for he was a truly complete player. In both defence and attack. For when Sunny was in the mood. He was like a little shaken bottle of soda pop ready to explode.

Dehli in 1983 bore witness to this where he decided to forego the duck and the weave and he unfurled his mastery of his pull and hook. Great recipe against names such as Michael Holding, Malcolm Marshall, Winston Davis and Wayne Daniel who loved the chin music. A little Indian up against 4 raging quicks and the result was a run a ball 121 that etched his name in folklore.

For not only smashing the best all over the park, but also by him equalling the best. In regards to his 29th Test century that equalled Australia’s Don Bradman

A source of inspiration that can’t be put into words and I wander if it not only inspired all Indian’s to strive for the stars, but also a certain lad named Sachin to not only emulate it, but to try to better it……

Happy Birthday Sunil Gavaskar and thanks is not enough for what you mean!

Tim Holt
Cricket through the eyes of an Irishman. Do check out more on my blog <a href="">atouchofirishintheglobalvillage</a>
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