I mute the TV sound when Gavaskar is on air

Posted: March 17, 2007 in gavaskar, hookes, ponting

I had a lot of respect for Gavaskar as a batsman, back when he was a player.

I also liked his guts on the field, when he took on opponents including his tiffs with Australia, on the field. He was the first signs of Indians breaking off that third-worldly complex of being inferior to the Englishmen or Australians. He had that confidence of saying that he was an equal in all respects.

I liked him for all that.

But since he retired, and more so, in the last few years, he has shown an extreme attitude which pains me. First of all, anytime that he is in the commentary box, his bias in favour of India, comes out too openly.

I cam imagine lesser chaps like a Srikkanth or a Laxman Sivaramakrishnan, going jingoistic even when they are supposed to be doing impartial commenting on the game, but for a person of his stature to do so, was sad. Its like, I have so much more respect for an Ian Chappell or a Richie Benaud or a David Gower in the commentary box, as they play the perfect expert giving their views on the game, without taking sides for any team of player. Whereas for a Gavaskar, the Indian bias is not even disguised.

Ravi Shashtri is another old and respected commentator cricketer. Even he tends to get a little patriotic at times. I suppose that this goes with being Indian, or perhaps, since the Indian fan is your biggest ‘customer’ so to say, you have to feed this kind of commentary, as that is what the fan likes to listen!

However Ravi Shashtri definitely gives a far more balanced perspective than Gavaskar does. Gavaskar, the one time highest run getter and century maker in test cricket, behaves like a fan on the street!!

Just for the record, in terms of Indian commentators, I quite like Harsha Bhogale, and amongst the cricketers, I have some respect for the views expressed by Sanjay Manjrekar and Javagal Srinath. They may not have the fluency that comes with experience, being on the mike, but their views are fairly balanced and often, technically to the point.

As for the rest, people like Laxman Siva, Srikanth, Venkatesh Prasad, Mohinder Amarnath, Arun Lal, Atul Wasan, Kirti Azad (yeah, ALL of these jokers have made it to the commentary team, at some time or another), the less said about them the better. Or more correctly, the less they say, the better!!

Coming back to Gavaskar, as mentioned, my first pain about him, is his jingoism.

Thereafter, he also does not manage to disguise some of his strong prejudices, e.g. his hatred for Australians in general. He disliked Greg Chappell becoming India’s coach. He was part of the committee that made the final selection and he was personally rooting for the Indian son-of-the-soil, Mohinder Amarnath. I suspect simply because he was Indian (with just a tinge of the old camaraderie of dressing room friendship, also playing a role in Gavaskar’s choice then), and also that he was competing against two Australians that time, namely, Moody and Greg Chappell. Gavaskar would of course, like to get anyone but an Australian!

However thankfully, the committee had others who did not have such biases and they picked Chappell. And Gavaskar has once again, not let it get off his head (like his hatred for Australians probably has historical reasons from the on-the-field issues that he had with the likes of Lillee back in the 70s or 80s). At any opportunity that he finds, he makes it a point to find faults with Chappell. In his newspaper columns, on TV, etc. Again, where he may make an odd valid point, his bent towards the prejudice for Greg Chappell is not hidden, and comes out quite openly.

Sad again.

And now the recent uncalled for fracas with Australia and Australians, is just a bit too much. When you needle the Australians about being unpopular winners, Ponting is certainly going to respond. And he responded, in a way, correctly, by reminding Gavaskar about the time he almost walked out of the stadium, with his team! Things could have stopped at this point. But Gavaskar chose to speak further, and in doing so, he breached the line. He referred to the late David Hookes. That is something that is JUST NOT DONE. The Australians from Border to McGrath to Hodge and everyone else, have taken strong offense to this latest foot-in-the-mouth statement of Gavaskar. And rightly so. And yet, most of them have been dignified about their responses.

Now, imagine for a second, if it was a reverse situation. Say, some Australian had made a remark of this type, about a Polly Umrigar or a Hanumant Singh, or someone like that. How strongly would Gavaskar have reacted?? Just imagine.. And of course, the Indian media and the public would have gone to town, on account of that statement. Perhaps effigies of the person making the statement, would have been burnt in Lucknow and Gorakhpur, and it would have been prime time material on news channels, with comments being solicited from Sharad Pawar to maybe, even Manmohan Singh.

One only needs to remember the Champions Trophy celebration party, where Damien Martyn, accidentally pushed Pawar, or something of that nature happened. The reactions to that ‘non-incident’ tells us how the fans, the media, and especially, Gavaskar, can react, to situations of this kind.

One must credit the Australians for behaving with far greater maturity, inspite of the Gavaskar b.s. on David Hookes.

Having said that, I have reached my limits with Sunny. I have lost all respect for the man, I genuinely feel sad that a person of his stature has so little maturity, and I will not like to read any of his columns nor listen to him on TV anymore.

  1. USC Trojan says:

    While I agree about Gavaskar being extremely biased, I think if it was a plan to tickle the Aussies like the Aussie press does to visiting teams, this was a master stroke.

    See my post on the same subject.

  2. SPM says:

    No, I don’t think Gavaskar did that with any specific intention to tickle the Aussies, etc. He has the habit of putting his foot in the mouth, and that is what he did, once again.

  3. Sathya Sekar says:

    Unlike you, I was never a fan of Sunny the player. He was an ultra-defensive batsman who rarely provided a winning thrust. But as a commentator, as a cricket expert, he has been much better. His insights into the different strokes of a batsman and his humorous talk on other aspects of the game is very enjoyable.

    Through your post, I agree with you on one point – that Sunny should not have brought in David Hookes into the picture. That was indeed a bad move. But little else he has said is wrong.

    The Australians *are* a bunch of unpopular winners. Clive Lloyds’ Invincibles were so popular that even when India won in 1983, there were many, many Indians who were unhappy that West Indies lost !! Barring a few moments, they generally played cricket it should be. On the other hand, the Aussies have resorted to any number of ugly tactics – there have been many accusations of racism against a few of their players, they show little respect to officials of other countries, their on-field behaviour is pathetic and they arent pleased when they get it back in the same coin (remember Sarawan?). So I dont see anything wrong with what Sunny said. Ponting’s retort was ridiculous. He referred to India’s recent performance and Gavaskar’s walkout. While the former doesnt hold water because Gavaskar wasnt talking about performance at all, the latter was just a one-off incident in an otherwise clean career. And that too was not just because of an umpiring decision.

    So in short, I am in Sunny on this one though I wish he had avoided the ref to David Hookes.

  4. SPM says:

    You make some interesting points.

    My responses:
    a. The world has changed a lot since 1983. You can hardly associate the term ‘gentleman’s game’ with cricket anymore. Barring Bermuda or sides like that, I do not see a gentlemanly approach from any side. As regards respect for officials, etc., one only has to refer to Madan Lal’s comments when as coach, he was told by an Indian captain, ‘how much do you make? how much are you worth? i make so many times you do, and am worth so much. How can you order me?’, etc.
    It happens wherever there is clout, and with whoever that one can get away with!

    b. Australia has a phenomenal sports culture. Just about every individual is associated with some or the other sport. It also has an amazingly competitive lifestyle, especially where sport goes. A player values his presence in the national side, and gives off his very best to keep that. The game is played hard, as a consequence. Niceties do not exactly have a role there. That is what drives the success. It is no point for a player from another generation to come and say ‘in our days, things were like these..’. Those days are gone, forget about them!

    c. Gavaskar used to be a good commentator. I think he is beyond his ‘best by’ date. Now even his commentary is common place, about as good as something that you can hear from Laxman Sivaramakrishnan or something. Yeah, it has reached pedestrian levels. And on top of that, there is an overdose of jingioism. I cannot find much value in listening to him.

    Sorry mate, I stand by my views completely!

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