Former India captain and fly-half Sunil Gavaskar, also known by the nicknames ‘Sunny’ and ‘Little Master’, is undoubtedly one of India’s greatest cricketers to grace the gentleman’s game. The short flyhalf, who burst into the cricketing spotlight in his first overseas Test series against the mighty West Indies against the fiery rapids of the Caribbean, broke many batting records while setting new ones in course of a spectacular career, turned 74 on Monday.
Several of his historic and heroic innings in cricket’s longest and, arguably, toughest format, took place between 1971 and 1987. Thanks to his many memorable hits, which came on some of the least hospitable surfaces, he was part of the pantheon of legends.
Having learned his first lessons with the willow in the dust bowls of Mumbai, the city where he was born, Sunny was as comfortable playing some of the bouncy tracks in the Caribbean as he was the rank turners of the underworld. Indian continent. A distinguished member of India’s first team to win the 1983 World Cup, Gavaskar once held the record for most goals scored in Tests. The Mumbaikar, who scored over 10,000 red ball cricket runs, ended their career with 45 half-centuries and 34 centuries to their name.
There’s no better way to celebrate the 74th birthday of this cricketing colossus than to relive some of his best shots and records, some of which have stood the test of time. In March 1987, Gavaskar became the first cricketer to reach 10,000 tries, a milestone no one dared imagine, let alone aspired to at the time. By the time the legend made his curtain call and stepped into the cricket sunset, the ‘little master’ had a staggering 10,122 runs against him.
The number is dizzying in the parlance of cricket, especially considering they were made on some of the most hostile surfaces against Michael Holding, Andy Goberts, Joel Garner, Jeff Thompson and Denis Lillee, for n to name a few.
Sunny held her record for most hundreds of tests for quite a long time. Representing India in 125 Test matches, Gavaskar scored 34 centuries. For many, the record seemed insurmountable until “Master Blaster” Sachin Tendulkar eclipsed it in 2005.
1__9__8__3__ World Cup Winner _
233 int. Games
13,214 int. execute __
First batsman to score 1__0__,0__0__0__ runs in ____ Tests
— BCCI (@BCCI) July 10, 2023
The “little master” broke 13 centuries in 27 tests in which he participated against the West Indies. As history would attest, the Caribbean was a formidable red ball team in the 70s and 80s, but where most hitters seem to fail or come unstuck, Gavaskar triumphed and thrived, hitting milestones at bat against some of the the most feared rapids in the world.
After a breakthrough first series against the West Indies in 1971, Gavaskar failed to crack the triple digit mark in his next eight Tests against England. But the fly-half assuaged all doubts as he hit a splendid 101 in India’s opening innings of the 1974 Test Tour of England. He followed that up with half a century also in the second innings, but his heroics with the bat couldn’t help India avoid defeat in the encounter.
Gavaskar was rarely unfazed or intimidated even by the West Indian rhythm pack of Holding, Marshall, Robets and Garner. He totaled 774 runs in his first series against West Indies in 1971 and also had a double century against his name.
He hit a century and a double century in the Final Test. He scored 220 out of India’s 427 in the second innings in which only one other batsman recorded a score over 50. The match ended in a draw, sealing India’s historic victory. India in the first round of tests in the Caribbean.
Although his exploits with the willow tree are legendary, he was also a wise defender and leader. Not counting wicketkeepers, he was the first Indian defender to achieve a century-long milestone in Test cricket.
For the record, he took an incredible 108 catches in his Test career.