Sunil Gavaskar turns 75: A ‘Cricket Journey’ in Pictures!

July 10, 2024

Sunil Manohar Gavaskar is widely regarded as one of the greatest cricketers of all time. He played in an era where the fast bowlers were all over the batsmen with no restrictions on bouncers, beamers not outlawed. When batters across the globe faltered in the 70s and 80s, Gavaskar won many a battle against the quicks without a helmet or a chest guard. Having the most elegant and balanced stance - his batting style was mesmerising, masterly, ultimate. He had a perfect technique, was a picture of complete focussed concentration with four pillars holding his stature - Dedication, Determination, Devotion and Discipline.

Sunny was an embodiment of science, the art and commerce (of batting). Science: His technique was impeccable. Art: His batting was always a cynosure to the eyes, irrespective of whether he was defending or attacking the ball (seemed as if he was always caressing it). Commerce: He was a run scoring machine; there was always a high stake on his wicket.

He was the first to score ten thousand Test runs and held it until Australian Allan Border surpassed it in February 1993. He held the record of 34 test centuries for almost two decades before it was broken by his countrymate Sachin Tendulkar in December 2005. Under his captaincy, India won the Asia Cup 1984 in the United Arab Emirates and the Benson & Hedges World Championship of Cricket 1985 in Australia.

The current generation fail to understand that Gavaskar played against vicious odds and throw this batting genius in a garbage box. Even the best of cricketers of today would only recognise him as a commentator and wave his batting mastery as an old age bygone. I must confess, I am not a die-hard fan of Gavaskar either. I am a fan of his limitless patience at the crease, concentration, commitment, perseverance and courage. I applaud him for standing against discrimination of Indian cricketers and Indian cricket on the world stage, especially when the old cricketing powers of England and Australia were at the helm. My fanship ends there!

Sunil was born on a Sunday - July 10, 1949 in Bombay’s (now Mumbai) suburb Dadar’s Purandare Nursing Home. On his 75th birthday, this piece of writing is a tribute to a person who gave Indian cricket world respectability, taking the liberty of expanding his surname GAVASKAR to give pictorial credits.

A SUNNY SMILE: The smile that made a million hearts flutter with pride, ecstasy and sheer joy. From 1971-1987, for 17 years Gavaskar shouldered the responsibility of being an opening batsman of Indian cricket. 

IMPECCABLE LEGACY: The bat was just an extension of his arms. Technically brilliant, the hunger for runs, the remarkable patience to occupy the crease and the ability to play on and on!

G - Growing Up/Personal Life:

THAT SACRED STANCE: His stance was sacred, back lift brilliant. He stood like a monk, so very calm at the crease.

A JESUIT PRODUCT: Gavaskar completed his formal education in St Xavier’s Primary, High School and College, Mumbai (then Bombay). Spot little Gavaskar in this school photograph of 1955, message your finding in the ‘Comments Section’ below the Article. Three cheers in advance to those who get it right!

SUNIL’S IMMEDIATE FAMILY: Sunil, the eldest of the three offsprings of Manohar Gavaskar and Meenal Gavaskar (nee Mantri). All of eleven at that time, he is seen with his sisters Nutan (extreme left) and Kavita (extreme right) - who later married his contemporary Karnataka’s stylish batsman GR Vishwanath in March 1978.

LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT: Sunil tied the knot with his fan Marshneil Gavaskar (nee Mehrotra), daughter of a leather industrialist from Kanpur on September 23, 1974. It was love at first sight when she approached him for his autograph during a cricket match in Delhi in 1973.

WITH SON ROHAN: Gavaskar named his only child after his cricketing idol Rohan Kanhai of the West Indies. Sunil had got this Duncan Fearnley bat specially made for him.

THREE GENERATIONS: Gavaskar with his son Rohan, daughter-in-law Swati Mankar and grandson Vivaan at the launch event of a pre-school and daycare in the suburb of Andheri, Mumbai in July 2021.

ARDENT DEVOTEE: Gavaskar has been a passionate devotee of Sri Sathya Sai Baba. In this picture, also seen are (L-R) Alvin Kallicharan, Arjuna Ranatunga and Sachin Tendulkar.

A - Action on the field; Career Statistics & Highlights!

POETRY IN MOTION: The classic square drive on bended knees, executed to perfection.

A DEFENSIVE SHOT: Rock solid defence has been the core of Gavaskar’s batting. Here, he offers a solid defensive stroke to this thunderbolt from Chris Old in England in 1974.

THE PERFECT COVER DRIVE: Gavaskar drives Sarfraz Nawaz through the covers at the Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore during the 2nd test against Pakistan in 1978.

CHARTS OF RANGE OF SHOTS executed by Gavaskar while scoring his 29TH & 30TH test centuries against the West Indies in the 1983-84 series. He took a mere 94 balls to draw level with Don Bradman’s record tally of 29 test centuries at Delhi’s Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium (now Arun Jaitley Stadium) scoring 121 runs with 15 fours and 2 sixes off 128 balls. On December 28, 1983 – batting at No. 4 for the first time, Gavaskar surpassed Sir Don’s record in Chepauk Stadium, Madras (now Chennai) for the most number of test centuries at that time, scoring an unbeaten 236.

IN ACTION FOR THE LAST TIME: Gavaskar smacks Richard Hadlee during his 188 for Rest of the World Vs MCC at Lord’s in 1987. He was finally out caught and bold by compatriot Ravi Shastri. It was Gavaskar’s first ever first-class century at Lord’s in what was the last first-class match of his career.

ANOTHER MILESTONE: Gavaskar snaps up Chris Tavare off the bowling of Kapil Dev in England’s second innings of the first test at the Wankhede in 1981. Not counting wicketkeepers, he was the first Indian fielder to have achieved a milestone of a century of catches in Test cricket. For the record, he took an incredible 108 catches in his Test career - a testament to his agility, anticipation and vigilance on the field.

THE BOWLER: Gavaskar was a medium pace bowler who has two international wickets to his credit. Both the wickets were that of Pakistani batsman Zaheer Abbas in Pakistan - Zaheer c Chauhan b Gavaskar for 96 (1st Test, Faisalabad, Oct. 1978); Zaheer c Kapil b Gavaskar for 48 (2nd ODI, Sialkot, Oct. 1978) in the 1978-79 Cricket Series.

WAYS DISMISSED: Gavaskar was caught 87 times (43.9%); caught behind 54 times (27.3%) bowled 33 times (16.7%); Leg Before Wicket 17 times (8.6%); was run out 5 times (2.5%); and stumped twice (1%); To add to the above Stats, Gavaskar scored a solitary century in a One Day International (ODI), but never played a T20.

SHOWERED WITH CHAMPAGNE: Skipper Gavaskar cheered by his teammates after winning the Benson and Hedges World Championship of Cricket in 1985 in Australia. It was Gavaskar’s last assignment as Captain of India.

THE FINAL TEST WALK: Gavaskar walks away from the Test arena for the last time after scoring a classy 96 on a mine field at the Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bangalore (now Bengaluru) against Pakistan in March 1987. He fell short of just 4 runs in what would have been his 35th Test century.

V - Vote for Felicitations & Accolades:

PADMA BHUSHAN: President Neelam Sanjeeva Reddy pinning the Padma Bhushan award on Gavaskar’s chest in 1980. At 31 years, Sunny was one of the youngest recipients of this highly prestigious civilian honour.

A CAKE FOR THE MILESTONE: Celebrations at the Oberoi Towers Bombay (now Mumbai) in 1987. Occasion – Gavaskar becomes the first batsman in world cricket to score 10,000 Test runs.

SHERIFF OF BOMBAY: Gavaskar signs papers in the presence of then Maharashtra Governor PC Alexander and then Chief Minister Sharad Pawar. Gavaskar was sworn in as the Sheriff of Bombay (now Mumbai) in December 1994.

ICC HALL OF FAME: Gavaskar was inducted into the ‘ICC Hall of Fame’ with Kapil Dev presenting the ‘Hall of Fame Cap’ at a function in Dubai, UAE in February 2012.

CALYPSO: A calypso was composed in honour of Gavaskar by Willard Haris, who fell in love with the Little Master’s batting genius watching him from the gallery in 1971 West Indies tour. Chorus: “It was Gavaskar, de real master; Just like a wall, we couldn’t out Gavaskar at all, not at all; You know the West Indies couldn’t out Gavaskar at all.”

GAVASKAR PLACE: Sunil has a road named after him in Wellington, Capital of New Zealand in a suburb called Khandallah. Place (Pl.) is a small road/street that has no throughway or leads to a dead end.

SUNIL M. GAVASKAR CRICKET FIELD: A cricket field in Louisville, Kentucky, USA has been named after Gavaskar in October 2017. The field will serve as the home ground for the Louisville Cricket Club, which is part of the 42-team MidWest Cricket League.

LEICESTER CRICKET GROUND: A cricket ground in Leicester, East Midlands, England bears Gavaskar’s name to acknowledge his immense contribution in uplifting Indian cricket to a certain height.

A - Admiration of Written Works & Recognition:

MULTI-TALENTED PERSONALITY: Gavaskar is as prolific with the pen as he was with the bat and much more aggressive in this field.

A FAMED AUTHOR: Gavaskar has authored several books in his unique style right from his playing days. He has also written forewords to many. Parallel to his Test career, he used to write columns for newspapers and sports magazines, which he has kept going hitherto!

A FILM STAR: A still from the 1980 Marathi film ‘Savli Premachi’ in which he also sang a song “Jeevan Mhanje Cricket Raja.” In 1985, he acted in a Hindi cinema ‘Kabhi Ajnabi’ and in 1988 in a comedy movie ‘Maalamaal’ starring Naseeruddin Shah.

CARTOONS: A cartoon by Gavaskar’s way too senior Collegemate Mario Miranda in the Times of India that is self-explanatory; RK Laxman, India’s greatest cartoonist, drew the other sketch for the same newspaper, on the eve of the 1987 Reliance World Cup.

NOT AN INTERNET AGE YET: The printed publications in many languages roared in glory of Gavaskar’s accomplishments, often accompanied with full-blown-posters that would find a place in the rooms of his loyal fans.

BIOGRAPHIES: Written works in effusive praise of the Little Master was all over. Chris Clark, brought out his in 1980; In 2009, biographer Devendra Prabhudesai’s book hit the stands; In 1987, an excellent pictorial biography on Gavaskar by celebrated journalist Dom Moraes was published.

HE HAS BEEN EVERYWHERE: On TINKLE, a magazine for kids published by Amar Chitra Katha; There had been comic series based on him, in which he was described as a superhero thrashing and smashing everyone who came his way; “Sunny the Supersleuth” – Action comics featuring Sunil Gavaskar as a James Bond kind of character. Has any other cricketer been portrayed in such a manner?

GAVASKAR ON STAMPS: In 1988, the Caribbean Island nation of St Vincent and the Grenadines issued a $1.00 stamp; The stamp in the centre for Taka 6 was issued by Bangladesh; After the famous victories against the West Indies and England in 1971, the Department of Posts and Telegraphs, Government of India issued this special stamp of 20 paise to commemorate the achievement of the Indian Cricket Team. The first picture in the stamp is – who else but Sunil Gavaskar!

PHILONTROPHY: Gavaskar batting for children battling for life sponsoring the cardiac surgeries for many.

S - Support for Brands & Endorsements:

BOX ADVERTISEMENTS: Gavaskar was always a popular figure with the multinationals. One of his earliest endorsements was Sentry bath soaps in the early 1970’s; “Palmolive ka jawab nahin!” was another; Stiff joints don’t worry Gavaskar even now, he’s kept himself fit and active; “A welcome drink on Maharajah Class … served with style and a sunny smile.” A rather curious ad. with the Air India Maharajah throttled with a bottle opener!

DIVERSE ENDORSEMENTS: Rare ad for Cherry Blossom White Cleaner from the Illustrated Weekly of India; Mr and Mrs Gavaskar in Lipton Tea advertisement in 1987; In the Forhan’s toothpaste ad., Gavaskar says: “I’m a Superfighter. My son to be one too”; Gavaskar in Sears-Elcot Television Advertisement during Reliance World Cup 1987.

DINESH SUITINGS: In the 1980s, Sunil Gavaskar’s beautiful advertisements featuring Dinesh Suitings would adorn the inner cover/back cover of leading magazines at that time.

K - Knowing/Meeting Eminent Personalities:

WHEN DON SET, SUNNY ROSE: Donald Bradman remarked - “There’s one thing that impresses me about him: the bat looks like a slave in his hand. I like watching him play. I haven’t seen an opening batsman for years who can save you a test match and he is able to do it with great ease.”

MEETING THE QUEEN: Sunil Gavaskar being introduced to Queen Elizabeth by skipper Ajit Wadekar during the 1st test England Vs India 1971.

ANOTHER SUNNY FAN: The then Pakistan President, the late General Zia-Ul-Haq presenting a carpet to Sunil Gavaskar on his 100th Test appearance in Lahore, Pakistan in 1984.

WITH THE INDIAN PM: Sunil Gavaskar has an audience with the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the latter’s New Delhi residence.

ONE LEGEND WITH ANOTHER: Megastar Amitabh Bachchan describes cricketing legend Sunil Gavaskar as one of the most entertaining people ever and says he is the pride of India.

LATA MANGESHKAR SAYS: I performed at a Concert in honour of the victorious Indian cricket team after they had won the World Cup in 1983. While I was performing, I requested the cricketers to join in singing the chorus. I was amazed how Sunil sang – he sang really well.

LEGENDS IN THEIR OWN RIGHT: Gavaskar with Ustad Amjad Ali Khan and Padma Subramanyam at the 98th birthday celebrations of Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba in Muddenahalli, Karnataka in November 2023.

A - A man of Controversies

DISPUTES ON AND OFF THE FIELD: From giving up lifetime membership offer from MCC; instrumental in having dropped Kapil Dev for the Calcutta (now Kolkata) Test in 1984; taking a team packed with Maharashtrian players for the 1982 English tour; uncalled remarks about late Aussie player David Hookes; large unaccounted foreign currency discovered in the locker of Mumbai’s Gymkhana Club - Gavaskar is not a stranger to controversies!

ETERNAL RECORD: Manager Ramchand told the Daily Express: “It was the most disgraceful and selfish performance I have ever seen … his excuse (to me) was, the wicket was too slow to play shots but that was stupid thing to say after England had scored 334. The entire party is upset about it. Our national pride is too important to be thrown away like this.”

THE INFAMOUS SPAT: Sunil Gavaskar argues with bowler Dennis Lillee after being given out LBW by the umpire in the third test against Australia in Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) in 1981. A little later Gavaskar ordered his opening partner Chetan Chauhan to walk out to the pavilion with him.

NOT A FLIPPED IMAGE: Gavaskar batting left-handed during the Ranji Trophy semi-final between Bombay (now Mumbai) and Karnataka at Bangalore (now Bengaluru) in 1982. In Bombay’s second innings, Gavaskar batted left-handed when facing Karnataka’s left-arm spinner Raghuram Bhat, but switched to his right-hand when facing right-arm bowlers.

SETTING A BAD EXAMPLE: By endorsing Kamla Pasand, a premium brand of tobacco which the makers claim is designed to provide one with an authentic and unforgettable smoking experience that one can elevate one’s smoking experience to new heights.

R - Retirement in your Second Innings

My personal opinion, is for you to ‘call it a day’ in the second innings of your life and let the current generation take over. Just as you have always propagated that one should retire on high, it’s time for you to say goodbye. Times have changed. It’s not the era of the brand of cricket you were bred anymore.

Love to see more of your works in philanthropy. Looking forward for your series of books on being a ‘Commentator,’ where you have spent more than double the years you have played.

You have won a good race. You have been a fantastic Ambassador of Indian cricket. Wish you good health and may you live to score a scintillating century in your life!

Meanwhile, on behalf of thousands of fans spread across the world, “Wish you a happy seventy-fifth birthday”!




By Stephen P D’Souza, Melbourne
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Comment on this article

  • Joe Britto, Nakre/Bangalore

    Sat, Jul 13 2024

    Thank you Stephen P D'souza for a excellent article on the Greatest Opener ever. Gavaskar played in a Frightful era when Helmets were not in use and he made mince meat of the Greatest Pace Attack of all time the West Indies in their own Backyard in 1971- Scoring 34 test centuries out of the 125 Tests that he played is a Great testimony of his Prowess with th Bat. If one studied his face whilst batting and saw the intent and concentration , it was always worth betting that he would score a Century That Day ! We wish our dear Sunny a great life ahead and the very best always ! A BIG thank you for entertaining us for almost 2 Decades at a Trot !

  • Stephen P. D'Souza, Mangalore / Melbourne

    Fri, Jul 12 2024

    Many thanks to you Alzira and Cliffy Sir for your comments. Alzira – You knew him only as a cricketer, glad you discovered more about him as a multi-talented personality. Those days, Bombay meant India. In addition to that, having been educated in St Xavier’s, he was articulate, blessed with the gift of writing - attributes not too many of his most talented peers enjoyed. Cliffy Sir – fascinating to know that Sunny Gavaskar lit up your childhood days. Rome was not built in a day nor was Indian cricket. From its years of infancy when the game was first introduced, in the 18th century in this part of the world by the British hirtherto - the gradual process of the development of this wonderful game and its appeal to the psyche of the common man and the stature of the people who play this game at the highest level for their country is an experience to savour. Sunil Gavaskar has been one such who was born to love, born to lead, born to shine, born to succeed …

  • Cliffy, Mangalore

    Fri, Jul 12 2024

    Well written article about Sunny, Mr. Stephen sir. Salute. So many details with pictures. My childhood days Sunny sir was adored by all cricket lovers.

  • Alzira Mascarenhas, Mangalore/Melbourne, Australia

    Fri, Jul 12 2024

    Dear Stephen, Well crafted, researched and detailed compilation of the life of the 'Little Master' whom I did not know except as a cricketer. You have brought back a legend to life on his milestone birthday, a well deserved tribute to this great and respected veteran of this game by speaking of his biography and unspoken achievements. Let's hope he will mark a century and beyond ! Great salute to our 'Little Master' and a very Happy 75th Birthday ! Thank you for the insight, pictures and a beautiful write up. Looking forward to the next one.

  • Stephen P. D'Souza, Mangalore / Melbourne

    Thu, Jul 11 2024

    Thank you for your compliments Mr Shettigar :)

  • Jagannath Shettigar, Udupi

    Thu, Jul 11 2024

    What a great compilation, narration and presentation. Thank you.

  • Stephen P. D'Souza, Mangalore / Melbourne

    Thu, Jul 11 2024

    Sunil Gavaskar is standing 3rd row – 3rd from left. My photo in this piece of writing is connected to cricket – sitting in the empty stands of the Melbourne Cricket Ground, abbreviated as MCG, the locals simply calling it as ‘The G.’

  • Stephen P. D'Souza, Mangalore / Melbourne

    Thu, Jul 11 2024

    Thanks Suresh. Nice try, you were very near, yet a bit far … need to go further up to spot Sunny Gavaskar!

  • Stephen P. D'Souza, Mangalore / Melbourne

    Thu, Jul 11 2024

    Thank you Alwyn. This ‘piece of writing’ is a perspective in a nutshell of a man standing at a height of 5’ 5”, lovingly called “The Little Master.”

  • Suresh K., Mangalore/Sharjah

    Thu, Jul 11 2024

    Excellent compilation Stephen. I think, Gavaskar is standing second from left in the first row of the school photograph.

  • ALWYN, Mangalore

    Wed, Jul 10 2024

    Hi Steve.. well captured article, Sunil on the field and off the field too.

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Title: Sunil Gavaskar turns 75: A ‘Cricket Journey’ in Pictures!

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