Gavaskar celebrates 60th birthday amid pouring tributes

July 10th, 2009 - 8:39 pm ICT by IANS  

Sachin Tendulkar New Delhi, July 10 (IANS) Legendary Indian cricketer Sunil Manohar Gavaskar turned 60 Friday and spent the day at the Satya Sai Baba ashram in Puttaparthi near Bangalore.
The little master was accompanied by his family members, including brother-in-law Gundappa Viswanath with whom he has shared many Indian innings.

Gavaskar burst onto the international scene in the away series against West Indies in 1971, aggregating 774 runs in four Tests. That saw the beginning of a sparkling career as he went on to become the first player to cross the milestone of 10,000 runs in Test cricket.

Indian media Friday was full of glowing tributes paid to Gavaskar by his contemporaries, some of the greats of the game who played alongside him.

Gavaskar’s huge contribution to the game and especially to Indian cricket was acknowledged by both his colleagues and the current crop of players.

Sachin Tendulkar, who idolized Gavaskar in his growing up days, led in paying the tributes, calling Sunny an “institution” in himself and one who fired the imagination of cricketers not only of his generation but later too.

Tendulkar, who broke Gavaskar’s record of 34 Test centuries, said he was privileged to have shared some great moments with the legend and has learnt many aspects of the game from him in every step of his career.

Former India skipper Ajit Wadekar, who led India to a historic victory against the West Indies in Gavavaskar’s debut series in 1971, recalled how the opener had shown gumption and played a stellar role in the tour.

“Sunny was made of legendary stuff. He is India’s greatest batsman,” Wadekar said.

Gavaskar’s contemporary and another great of the game, Clive Lloyd, too, said the 1971 series heralded the arrival of a star.

“I saw all those runs from a very close quarters. The talent aspect highlighted my first impressions of him. I admired his concentration skills and the ease with which he played,” Llyod said.

“He had so much time to play the ball and that is always a sign of a great player. He made a lot of runs against us and we knew for sure that here is a star for the future.”

Thirteen of Gavaskar’s centuries came against the West Indies’ fearsome pace attack. The audacity the little master showed in facing the fire from the West Indian quickies without a protective headgear made him one of the most admired opening batsman.

“Thirteen hundreds against the West Indies is no mean feat. It was always a challenge to play against him because of his sheer skills,” said Lloyd.

It was against West Indies in the 1983-84 series at home that Gavaskar surpassed Sir Donald Bradman’s record of 29 Test centuries.

Another West Indies great, Rohan Kanhai, said: “I still remember his first tour in the West Indies. He played brilliantly and went on to become one of the greatest Test batsmen.”

Former England captain David Gower said: “You could see the pride in the way he represented India all those years earning the respect of all those who came up against him. He remains one of the shrewdest judges of the game of cricket.”

Gavaskar, the perfect copy-book executioner, scored 10,122 runs from 125 Tests in a career spanning 16 years.

He was part of the 1983 World Cup winning squad and later led India to victory in the World Championship in Australia.

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