Friday, May 6, 2011

Letter from Sunil Gavaskar

In August 1987 Sunil Gavaskar was on the way to airport for international flight with his journalist friend. He happened to hear about a 14 year old budding talent who was playing very well in Bombay but had not the Best Junior Cricketer award from Bombay Cricket Association. Hearing that Gavaskar wrote a letter to that kid:

Gavaskar wrote

Dear Sachin,

I wanted to write earlier but something or the other came in the way. Then I thought it better to write at the beginning of the new season rather than at the end of the last season.

Congratulations on your performance last season. What was most impressive was the way you batted alone when the others around you were not contributing much. Keep it up.

Also please do not neglect your studies. My experience is that education helps you through bad patches in whichever career you choose.

So go ahead and God bless.


Sunil Gavaskar. 

PS: Don't be disappointed at not getting the Best Junior Cricketer award from BCA. If you look at the past award winners, you will find one name missing and that person has not done badly in Test cricket!!""

That kid was Sachin Tendulkar. It little over two years before Sachin made his international debut. This letter written by Sunil Gavaskar to a 14-year-old budding cricketer is one of SRT's prized souveniors. Tendulkar, who has completed two decades in international cricket, still can't thank his idol enough for personally writing in to him.

Remembering the letter, Sachin said: "I remember when I didn't get the best junior cricketer award, he sent me a hand-written letter," Tendulkar said during a function to felicitate Gavaskar and Gundappa Vishwanath on the completion of their 60 years. A hand-written letter by someone who I worshipped, that too at that age helped me get over the disappointment of not winning the award. It's important to get right advice at the proper age."

In the letter, Gavaskar cited his own example of missing out on the best junior cricketer award in the 1960s. Tendulkar was hugely inspired by the feats of his fellow Mumbaikar. And Gavaskar time and again has indicated that he is a huge Tendulkar admirer. Gavaskar says: "He is from another planet. I won’t go into the comparison business of who is greater or the greatest. He and Lata Mangeshkar are the only Indians who have never had bad patches. May that continue. Forever."

"When I scored the 34th Test ton, I think Sir (Gavaskar) was in Nepal. In the evening, he called to wish me. When someone who has been your hero, whom you've idolised, makes an effort to wish on your achievement, nothing else can be bigger and better. When I scored the 35th (ton) [Photo above], Sir told me: "Carry on from here on. Don't stop". I am trying to do just that."

Sachin Tendulkar has earlier said that he made a conscious effort to blend Sunil Gavaskar's defence with Viv Richards' ruthlessness to evolve a batting style of his own. Tendulkar revealed he modelled his batting style on Gavaskar and Richards, two players he idolised: "Sunil Gavaskar, needless to say, and Vivian Richards are the batsmen that really inspired me," said the champion batsman with more than 29,000 international runs under his belt. I wanted to be as solid as Sunil Gavaskar and as destructive as Vivian Richards, because that combination was always going to be lethal. I felt truly inspired by these two individuals on the field."

Sachin was also given a pair of pads by his cricket hero Sunil Gavaskar when he was a schoolboy - and he made his Test debut for India against Pakistan aged just 16-years old in 1989 wearing those very pads. But during a camp after that one fellow camp mate mistook those for his own and Sachin lost those pads. Recently after his 20 years in cricket Sachin in the media told this story of lost pads.

As for SMG, here's what he had to say on the eve of SRT's 21st season in International cricket: "I think, apart from Sir Garfield Sobers nobody else has played 20 years in international cricket and 20 years playing at the very highest level and to the very highest standard is an achievement beyond compare," Gavaskar said of the 36-year-old, who completed his two decades in international cricket today. No place can be too high for this young man and he is young because as far as his enthusiasm for the game is concerned, he is almost childlike. That is what is keeping him going on and on."

Gavaskar, himself a celebrated batsman of his era, said he started understanding cricket only post 1960 and is yet to see a batsman as complete as Tendulkar. "Since 1960, from when I started to understand a little bit of cricket, he has been the greatest batsman that the game has seen," he said.

Part of the select few to whom Tendulkar turns to advice for batting, Gavaskar said he likes to set challenges for the Little Master. "I prod him a little all the time. I ask him to get to that next double hundred, that next century or those next thousand runs. I always challenge him a little bit," he said. "The immediate target that I have set for him is the 2011 World Cup. I want him to win that for India," he added.

Looks like the bonhomie between the two Little Masters is pivotal to India's cricketing success - with 51 Test tons and an overall 99 international centuries, methinks SRT has SMG's words imprinted on his mind and heart forever. And he has achieved SMG's latest target - he just won the World Cup!

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