Former Maharashtra leg-spinner, Sunil Gudge, died of a heart attack on Thursday. Gudge, 56, collapsed at his home in Pune and was declared dead on arrival at a private hospital.
A talented leg-spinner and a useful lower-order batsman who excelled for Maharashtra, Gudge picked 110 wickets in 55 first-class games. When he made his first-class debut at 19, Gudge was considered to be one of the promising young leg-spinners in India in the early 1980s along with L. Sivaramakrishnan.
Besides representing Maharashtra and West Zone, Gudge also featured in a tour game against the visiting England team in Pune for India Under-22. He also represented the Board President’s XI against West Indies and Sri Lanka. After retiring from the game, besides coaching youngsters at the Nehru Stadium, Gudge also served as a BCCI match referee for a decade.
“Very sad. Big loss for Maharashtra cricket. He will be remembered as the finest leg-spinner Maharashtra has seen. There was a comparison between him and Siva when both of them were young. Siva went on to play for India, he (Gudge) couldn’t make it for some reason,” said Surendra Bhave, former Maharashtra captain.
“I still remember in that England match, he had got Geoffrey Boycott plumb in front of the wickets with a googly, which was not given out for some reason. I remember Boycott calling him after stumps, complementing him for his bowling and admitting even he thought he was out.”
Despite being bogged down by an illness, Gudge had been fighting hard for the rights of his club, Sunil Gudge XI Cricket Club. Last month, he had written a letter of protest to the Maharashtra Cricket Association after his club was disallowed from participating in the MCA Under-19 League “without giving any reason”. Sadly for Gudge, he will never get to know the reason for his club’s expulsion.
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