The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Sunny strikes back with a vengeance
Sunil Gavaskar

New Delhi: In a scathing reaction to Ricky Ponting’s attack on him, a combative Sunil Gavaskar struck back with a vengeance, saying a “hothead guy” might actually whack the Australian cricketers if they dared replicate their on-field behaviour in a bar.

The former India captain justified describing the Australian team’s behaviour as “awful” and said it would be difficult for players, who use such language, to get away from a bar without being physically hurt.

“Some day, some other hothead guy might actually get down and, you know, whack somebody who abuses him,” Gavaskar said.

Citing the example of former Aussie cricketer David Hookes, who had been fatally beaten up outside a bar, Gavaskar said the behaviour of current players could land them in trouble.

“There’s the example of the late David Hookes. Would the Australians who use that kind of language on the field — not all of them — do that in a bar and get away with it' Would they have a fist coming at their face or not'” Gavaskar said on a sports channel.

Defending his decision to walk out of the MCG in protest against an leg-before decision in 1981, Gavaskar said, “the reason the walk-off took place was simply because I was abused by the Australians.”

Gavaskar said it was the on-field behaviour of a side, which mattered the most in cricket.

“Let me also come back to what he (Ponting) said about, the way I played my cricket and I do not know what he’s looking at. When he talks about the Indian team not having won matches, we are not talking about winning matches here, we are talking about behaviour on the field,” he said.

In an unusually personal attack on Monday, Ponting had questioned the sportsmanship of Gavaskar and ridiculed Team India’s performance in recent years.

Provoked by Gavaskar’s comment in a magazine that Australia were an “unpopular team” because of their on-field behaviour, Ponting had said, “we all know the way he played his cricket, don’t we' If he is talking about us, what about the way India have played their cricket over the last few years'”

“I don’t know if there are too many popular winners. If you are really dominating teams for a long period of time, I don’t think you end up having too many supporters around the place,” the Australian captain said.

“I don’t mind if ‘Mr Perfect’ comes out and goes on about our team. I know we are all not perfect. We are not going to keep everyone happy 100 per cent of the time,” Ponting remarked.

Gavaskar drew a comparison between the Australians and the West Indies side of the 70s and 80s, saying the Caribbean players were popular when they were at the peak.

“The West Indians were popular winners, there was an affection about the West Indians in spite of the fact that they were beating you in three days.”

“They (West Indies) did not abuse the opponents. They did not have anything to say to the opponents.

“When they were dominating world cricket the West Indians did not resort to personal abuse on the field, they just played the game hard, they were very tough competitors but there was nothing untoward in their behaviour towards their opponents.

“West Indian players always had a smile on their face when they came in at the end of day’s play to talk with you and to commiserate when you lost, you could see that there was no arrogance there,” he said.


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