Sunil Gavaskar, Sachin Tendulkar: How Mumbai maidans made the modern-day greats of Indian cricket : Books
On October 17, 2008, in Mohali towards Australia, Sachin Tendulkar broke Brian Lara’s report to grow to be the best run scorer in Take a look at cricket and the primary to cross 12,000 runs. Tendulkar had promised me an interview to mark the momentous event. We had additionally contracted Gavaskar for skilled feedback on the collection. Which is how one night in the course of the Mohali Take a look at I got here near attaining cricket nirvana as Gavaskar and Tendulkar sat down collectively to speak cricket: Gavaskar wearing a standard collared shirt, Tendulkar in a extra informal polo-neck T-shirt, their sartorial variations reflecting the generational shift.
Gavaskar and Tendulkar, two quick males with tall achievements: 85 Take a look at tons of between them, and greater than 26,000 Take a look at runs. They’re the dual towers of Indian batting, one is the classicist, the opposite the extra versatile; each all-time greats. Greater than the sheer quantity of runs, it’s what they represented to 2 generations of Indian cricket followers that units them aside: if Gavaskar gave Indian cricket dignity and self-respect, Tendulkar introduced power and pleasure. When Gavaskar first noticed Tendulkar bat, he instantly rang up his spouse to say he had seen one thing ‘particular’. When Tendulkar was rising up, Gavaskar was a task mannequin together with the West Indian, Sir Vivian Richards. “I used to be an enormous fan of Sir Viv however Gavaskar’s 10,000 runs and 34 centuries was all the time the benchmark for cricket greatness,” mentioned Tendulkar. “It wasn’t a aware goal however I suppose it was all the time there someplace behind the thoughts.” Tendulkar finally went previous Gavaskar’s information however a pure statistical comparability is not simple. They each averaged greater than 50 in Take a look at cricket, however Gavaskar was a gap batsman, Tendulkar performed at quantity 4. One was nurtured within the pre-helmet period, the opposite had the advantage of batting with a helmet. Gavaskar performed for a very long time with the data that the whole Indian batting efficiency was depending on him whereas Tendulkar had the profit within the latter half of his profession of being a part of a uncommon assemblage of Indian batting stars from Sehwag to Dravid to Laxman in a single crew. Gavaskar was reared in an age the place there was a premium on defensive batting; the Tendulkar interval noticed a transition to the extra attacking sport. Gavaskar scored just one restricted overs worldwide century whereas Tendulkar hit an unimaginable 49 one-day centuries. Like all nice gamers, they might adapt to any scenario. Tendulkar as soon as batted with grim dedication for greater than 600 minutes to make an unbeaten double century towards Australia at Sydney in 2004 with out hitting a single off-drive in anger. In the meantime, Gavaskar modified gears on his technique to a double century on the Oval in 1979, attacking the English bowling and taking India near an unimaginable final day win.
Each had very distinctive batting types: Gavaskar extra upright in stance, utilizing a a lot lighter bat, ft nearer along with a slight shuffle earlier than the bowler delivered, whereas Tendulkar, with the heavier bat and unconventional backside hand grip, crouched just a little extra and the ft have been wider aside. Gavaskar was most likely the higher cutter, Tendulkar the simpler puller; a signature Tendulkar again foot cowl drive was as pleasant to look at as a Gavaskar late lower. Each have been masters of the straight drive, the leg-side flick and judging a single. Certainly, the precision of their actions, the stillness of the top, the straightness of their bat and, above all else, the fierce dedication and starvation for runs have been a standard thread: Gavaskar had merely handed the baton to Tendulkar simply as a earlier technology had relayed the torch to him. “I bear in mind when Gavaskar gifted his pads to me, I slept with them subsequent to me as a result of it was like a bit of priceless treasure for me,” recalled Tendulkar.
On the flip of the century, Tendulkar acquired the final word praise when the Australian batting legend Sir Don Bradman, broadly thought to be the greatest-ever batsman, claimed to have seen distinct similarities between Tendulkar’s compact, aggressive batting model and his personal. I interviewed Tendulkar a couple of months after the Bradman remark and he was clearly overwhelmed by the comparability. “I do not assume I can ask for extra as a batsman, can I?” he mentioned proudly. In 2001, Bradman’s personal best all-time eleven choice noticed Tendulkar determine as the one Indian within the facet however the truth that there have been as many as seven Australians in Bradman’s crew means that cricket alternatives are sometimes dictated by parochialism.
For a extra nuanced evaluation of their artwork of batting, I turned to Milind Rege, the veteran Mumbai cricketer who performed with Gavaskar proper from their schooldays collectively and was one of many first to identify Tendulkar’s expertise. “Very troublesome to check the 2 greats from completely different generations,” he says. “However what I’ll say is that Tendulkar was a prodigy, Sunil was not. Gavaskar labored at his sport and thru superb powers of focus turned an all-time nice whereas Tendulkar was already a completed product by the point he was 15. Gavaskar by no means gave you an opportunity as soon as he was set whereas Sachin was all the time trying to assault and so was extra fallible. In a way, Sachin was extra like Viv Richards in his want to dominate the bowling whereas Gavaskar was the normal error-free opening batsman.” So who would you want in your crew, I ask Rege. “Cannot I’ve each?” He winks, including, “Let me put it this fashion, I might like to have Sachin in my crew however I might hate to have Gavaskar within the opposition.”
Kapil Dev, who bowled to each, says that Gavaskar was the harder to get out however Tendulkar was the extra gifted. “Gavaskar would all the time hit the unhealthy ball for 4, however with Sachin, he might even hit the nice deliveries for a boundary,” says Kapil. India’s premier all-rounder believes Tendulkar ought to even have scored much more runs than he finally did. “Along with his abilities, he ought to have truly scored triple centuries and quadruple centuries in Take a look at cricket, Sachin was that good,” Kapil argues. That Tendulkar’s highest Take a look at rating is 248 not out towards Bangladesh is probably a slight statistical blip, particularly when you think about up to date like Virender Sehwag hit two Take a look at triple tons of. It maybe suggests a mindset that was risk-averse even when the opposition bowlers had drained and wilted. After I ask Tendulkar to reply, he smiles: “You’ll be able to’t have every thing in life, however almost 16,000 Take a look at runs is not too unhealthy, is it?”
Gavaskar has a greater captaincy report however then Tendulkar, one might argue, did not get sufficient alternatives to steer the crew in additional acquainted house circumstances. “Sure, not attending to captain a profitable facet is a giant remorse,” he as soon as instructed me. The extra articulate and cerebral Gavaskar has spoken out in public on cricket points much more usually than the extra introverted and diplomatic Tendulkar, who has by no means expressed himself strongly on even, say, the match-fixing controversy. “I’ve spoken once I wanted to however I do not imagine in unfastened speak primarily based on allegations,” he tells me.
In the course of the joint interview in Mohali once I requested Gavaskar and Tendulkar who was the higher participant, every pointed instantly to the opposite. “I might go miles to look at Tendulkar bat however am undecided I might try this for me,” mentioned Gavaskar self-deprecatingly. He mentioned Tendulkar’s “steadiness” was a real measure of his success, “steadiness on the sector, steadiness in life”. Tendulkar mentioned Gavaskar’s skilled work ethic was inspirational for his technology.
The mutual respect, in a way, is reflective of the same Maharashtrian middle-class background, of being a part of a shared heritage of Mumbai cricket that was nurtured on town’s maidans and toughened by the crowded bus and practice rides to matches. Gavaskar began taking part in within the slim lane of a crowded colony in south-central Mumbai the place the main focus was on holding the ball alongside the bottom in order that no windowpanes have been damaged. Within the leafy Sahitya Sahawas colony in suburban Mumbai, Tendulkar had just a little extra freedom: you possibly can truly hit a lofted shot, strike a tree and nonetheless not be out, which could clarify his extra effervescent stroke-play.
Maybe one technique to distinction Gavaskar and Tendulkar is to view them as pre- and post-liberalisation batting heroes. Gavaskar grew up in 1960s India when the nation was nonetheless not sure of its place on this planet. His debut collection in 1971 was a breakout yr, one which instilled hope in the way forward for Indian cricket. However by way of a lot of Gavaskar’s profession, India was rising at a gradual ‘Hindu’ charge of progress and cricket mirrored the frugal occasions: this was not an India that allowed for extravagance. By the point Tendulkar made his mark on the sport, India was a nation on the transfer: the 1991 opening up of the economic system was seen as an unshackling of the ‘animal spirit’ of Indian entrepreneurship. Tendulkar’s batting epitomised this spirit of larger freedom and risk-taking.
That they each come from Mumbai solely exhibits how town has been on the coronary heart of Indian batting for the larger a part of the primary 60 years after Independence. Nevertheless, there have been distinct indicators previously decade that present the glory days of Mumbai cricket are over as different areas of the nation throw up their very own heroes. (In 2016, the primary Take a look at performed at Mumbai’s Wankhede stadium after Tendulkar’s retirement did not have a single participant from Mumbai.) However the reverence for the Gavaskar-Tendulkar batting legacy is unshaken in India’s authentic cricket capital. For my technology, Gavaskar was a cricketing god. For the 1990s technology, it’s Tendulkar. The Siddhivinayak temple within the coronary heart of Mumbai attracts lakhs of devotees, as does the Haji Ali dargah. Completely different non secular teams come to worship right here. However in cricket, there isn’t any non secular barrier when celebrating our divinities-in Mumbai, we venerate Gavaskar and Tendulkar with equal fervour.