Sunil Gavaskar’s association with international cricket spans across many decades. He made his debut for India in 1971 and played his final international game in 1987. And since 1990, the legendary batsman has been one of the most renowned commentators.
While his legacy as a player will forever be cherished, Gavaskar’s run as a commentator has also been memorable in its own way. The Little Master’s voice has had a significant influence on the cricket-watching experience for fans over the past three decades.
The year 2020 marks 30 years of Gavaskar as a commentator. He made his debut with the mic during India’s 1990 Test against England at Lord’s, where Graham Gooch scored a triple-century to help his team earn a huge win.
There is no denying that Gavaskar’s astute analysis has enriched innumerable matches for viewers. But having said that, over the years, the Mumbaikar also expressed his cricketing pet peeves which some fans find rather funny.
Most commentators who have had lengthy careers with the mic are known for their trademark phrases. Ravi Shastri and “tracer bullet” are inseparable, Tony Greig and “what a player” came hand in hand, and Geoffrey Boycott’s disgust for “absolute rubbish” is common knowledge.
Similarly, there are certain things that Gavaskar says as a commentator (not necessarily catchphrases) that fans are aware. Often, amusingly, these are about his complaints with the players’ on-field actions.
Having been highly disciplined himself through the course of his career, there are certain habits that Gavaskar has always believed are a must for players while on the field.
Here’s a look at some of them:
Ground the bat: Gavaskar doesn’t like it when batsmen complete a tight single without grounding their bat while going past the crease. He simply doesn’t. If you leave your bat hanging in the air and crash it in after going past the crease, it doesn’t matter whether you’re run-out or comfortably in, it shall be pointed out. Schoolboy error.
Hold bat in the correct hand: Another absolute must for Gavaskar is batsmen holding their bat in the correct hand while running between wickets. You must always face the direction of the ball while tapping the bat inside the crease. No excuses.
Don’t throw the ball unnecessarily: Well, this is, perhaps, the thing that annoys Gavaskar the most. Fielders over the years have developed a habit of throwing the ball hard at the wicketkeeper after each delivery, even if the batsmen aren’t going anywhere. They sometimes have a shy at the stumps even when a batsman is comfortably in. This is simply unacceptable. What if the overthrows cost you the match? “Modern day cricketers....,” starts Gavaskar, when he sees that on the cricket field.
No initials on jersey: You may be widely known as ‘DK’ but that doesn’t allow you to have your initials on the back of your jersey. Again, you’re representing your country, the right thing to do is have your name on the back so that you’re identifiable. Don’t be full of yourself. Very old school. Very Sunny G.
Wear your cap straight: You’re representing your country while playing international cricket. There’s a certain decorum that’s expected of you. If the national cap isn’t worn straight while on the field, brace yourself to face Sunny G’s wrath. You ain’t a rapper.
Tuck your shirt in: Just like the cap, the shirt has its place as well. It must be tucked-in at all times. It’s important to dress like a proper cricketer, even if you are not good at it.
Wear India jersey/caps only if you’re a player: His uncle Madhav Mantri never allowed Gavaskar to wear the India cap before he made his international debut. Gavaskar took the lesson to heart. Owning the national team’s jersey/cap is an honour that must be earned, it cannot be borrowed. How dare you wear it if it isn’t yours? Gavaskar has no patience for such disrespect.
Convert ones into twos: If there’s one catchphrase that belongs to Gavaskar, it is this. A batsman absolutely has to go hard for the first run and try to convert it into a double. This not only builds pressure on the opposition but also helps “keep the scoreboard ticking”.
As a Twitter user summed it up:
Take guard again after century: You’ve finally gone past the mark, you’ve got the century, you’ve raised your bat, you’ve basked in the sunshine. Great, now take guard again. Haven’t you heard Dada say a century is not enough? Khadoos for life.
No half-volley is ever easy: The bowler charges in but pitches it right under your bat. Your eyes light up and you drive the ball away comfortably for four. It may be one of the easiest things you do all day but that doesn’t mean you don’t deserve credit for it. After all, “it may have been just a half-volley but it still had to be put away”.
Hit a six, go off strike: You want to get into Gavaskar’s good books in an instant? Hit a six and then take a single off the next ball. That’s what you call smart cricket.
Give the first hour to bowlers: And finally, you don’t become arguably the greatest opener in Test cricket without having any respect for the bowlers. Mornings offer plenty of assist to pacers, the first hour must be given to them. After that, you’re free to dominate.
If you remember any classic Gavaskar phrases that we have missed out on, please let us know in the comments section or tweet to us thefield_in.