Sunil Gavaskar: 50 years with Indian cricket, a journey to remember

To be able to still stay involved with the game that has made me what I am today and has given me everything is a blessing indeed, and for me, Indian cricket is everything.

On the day his cricketing journey on and off the field completed 50 years, the author was presented with the new baggy cap that the current Indian team is wearing.   -  PTI

It was a truly emotional moment for me when Jay Shah, the young honourable secretary of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), presented me with the India cap on the day my cricketing journey on and off the field completed 50 years. This is the new baggy cap that the current Indian team is wearing, much like the baggy green of the Australians. Even more touching was when he asked me to look behind where I was standing and then to see a 10,000ft banner being unfurled commemorating my 10,000-run mark, which incidentally had come at the same Motera stadium way back in the 1980s. The anniversary of that mark was actually the next day, but the signs were evident that with the fight gone out of the Englishmen, the Test match would not go into the next day. That’s exactly as it turned out as India won with two days to spare and in doing so qualified for the ICC World Test Championship final to be played in England in June.

READ| Sunil Gavaskar Test debut on this day 50 years ago

To be able to still stay involved with the game that has made me what I am today and has given me everything is a blessing indeed, and for me, Indian cricket is everything. To be among the lucky 16 to be selected for the country is a huge honour and a privilege never to be taken lightly nor to be taken for granted. There are hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of youngsters who would sacrifice everything just to be in that privileged 16, but they don’t get that chance and that’s why it’s imperative never to forget what the game has done for you.

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It is therefore baffling as to how players can actually take leave from playing for the country unless it’s for an injury or for an unfortunate tragedy in the family. Yes, being in a bio-bubble is not easy, where the only interaction for weeks is with your team-mates. With the advances in technology, one can stay in touch with near and dear ones through video calls and other such methods. While that is never going to make up for actually meeting them in person, when one has the privilege of playing for the country, then one has to make some sacrifices.

That said, it was a huge thrill to see the manner in which the Indian team fought back after being one-down in the Test series and go on to win in style. What was even more impressive was that it was the younger brigade that was taking up and rising to the challenge. It shows that Indian cricket has a great future and augurs well for the years to come.

The author reached the 10,000-run mark in Test cricket way back in the 1980s at the same Motera stadium in Ahmedabad where he was feted on March 6.   -  The Hindu Photo Library

 

The BCCI deserves the lion’s share in the credit for this unbelievable bench strength. The ‘A’ team tours, the participation in the Emerging Players events, the under-19 and various age-group tournaments that the board organises are ensuring that the supply chain is strong and unbroken. Then, the Indian Premier League (IPL) gives young Indian players the chance to rub shoulders not only with Indian greats, but also with the superstars from other countries and to learn from them. Sharing the same change room and observing how these greats prepare, train and deal with failure is a great learning experience. Most importantly, the awe factor for the youngsters is gone as they see first hand that all these greats are like them with two hands, eyes and feet, and who also can have the same anxieties and fears that everybody else has.

Yes, the 50 years with Indian cricket has been a journey to remember indeed and has been made all the more enjoyable by seeing how brilliantly Indian cricket has progressed.

Thank you, Indian cricket, the BCCI and Indian cricket lovers for making it such an incredibly memorable one. I will forever be indebted to you.

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