When Sunil Gavaskar speaks, all cricketers listen with rapt attention. It was no different on Wednesday night as the legendary cricketer congratulated them during the felicitation ceremony of the Ranji Trophty-winning team, organised by the Cricket Club of India in its premises.
The former India captain congratulated each and every member of the Ranji-winning side and then spent a few minutes with the squad. He showered praise for Shreyas Iyer, Mumbai’s run-machine having scored 1321 runs in the Ranji season, and Siddhesh Lad, the crisis man who took the game away from Saurashtra with a blitzkrieg on the third morning of the final last month.
Gavaskar later revealed that he was delighted with the manner in which Mumbai eventually outplayed Saurashtra in the final. “Like I said to them, they won in style. Winning by an innings is something like what Mumbai used to do at their peak in the 70s and 80s under Ajit (Wadekar) and all those captains, winning by big margins and completely outplay the team. I was very happy with that,” he later said.
“The award that I was getting in Sydney – Pride of Maharashtra award by MIFTA – I wouldn’t have enjoyed it as much had it not been for the Ranji title.”
Mumbai may have stumbled while defending a mammoth target set for Rest of India on the last day of the domestic season. Yet, it didn’t overshadow what has otherwise been a highly successful domestic season across the levels. While the senior side regained the coveted Ranji Trophy, the Under-23 boys and girls emerged victorious in the inter-state tournaments. Even the Under-19 boys made it to the final, thus making it a fruitful season.
“I think it just tells you that the base is good, the foundation is good and you need to develop on that. You need to get all the encouragement and I am certain that the Mumbai Cricket Association – with so many cricketers in the managing committee and the cricket improvement committee (CIC) – is doing that,” said Gavaskar, who has also served as the CIC chairman.
“Mumbai cricket has seldom disappointed. They have always been there and thereabouts. Cricket is a game where one day you are not going to be doing well. The foundation of Mumbai cricket has always been very, very good.”
Gavaskar, who commentated during the Irani Cup match, hoped Iyer would convert his hundreds into big double centuries to force the national selectors to take a note of his performances.
“I was hoping to have a look at him today (in the Irani Cup) but he got out (for a nought). Anybody who gets a thousand-plus runs (in a season) has to be a special talent. I am just hoping that he goes on from there. He probably might not get a season like this but even if he gets an 800-plus season, that will be fantastic,” he said.
“In a four-day format, the only way to state a case for selection for the India team is to show that you are different from others. There are lots of people who get a hundred. When you get 250, you are different. Not everybody gets 250. So the selectors feels this guy is different. When you get 250, follow it up with a 200 then again a 150 maybe.
“It’s a simple thing. A hundred is a knock on the door. And the selectors are not 20 or 30 years old, they are getting into their 40s and 50s and, like me, might be are hard on hearing. A little bit of knock might not be heard by them, so you have got to knock a little harder with a 150, 200 you break the door down so that they no longer have to hear you, they are actually seeing you. That’s what I meant by telling him that dhaaiso banao (score 250).”
Despite the overload of international cricket, Sunil Gavaskar hoped that the domestic itinerary is modified a little bit in order to let the international cricketers turn out for its state teams.
“I somehow wish that the schedule was tweaked in such a way that our international cricketers are able to play at least some matches, not all the matches clearly, but even if some matches at the start or end of the season, that would lift the first-class circuit. It’s difficult with the international calendar,” he said.
Gavaskar also felt he would have preferred to see Test regulars like Cheteshwar Pujara, Murali Vijay, Ishant Sharma and KL Rahul competing against Mumbai in the Irani Cup.
“But I think the selection committee had their own reasons for looking at other players. I think the thinking is that we have had a look at Pujara and Vijay and Rahul, we want to see somebody else.,” he said. “When they see those players against the champion team, they also get a little bit of an idea about how he can bowl, how he can. But ideally for it to competitive, I think it should be best of the rest.”
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