| VVS Laxman |
Mumbai: Almost seven years after getting past Sunil Gavaskar’s record of 34 Test hundreds, Sachin Tendulkar publicly thanked him for being such an inspiration.
Speaking at the Taj Mahal Palace hotel’s Chambers Terrace on Wednesday night, during the annual awards ceremony of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), Sachin said: “We grew up watching you... Thanks for inspiring me to play cricket... All we wanted to do was follow in your footsteps.”
Sachin didn’t forget to thank former India coach John Wright either. Wright’s the one who made him believe, back in 2001 itself, that getting to a century of International hundreds was possible.
“Strange,” is how Sachin described the journey from his first hundred (Manchester, 1990) to the 100th (Dhaka, 2012).
Actually, it has been amazing.
Both Gavaskar and Sachin were among the awardees. The former got the Col. C.K. Nayudu Lifetime Achievement Award, while Sachin received a special presentation for becoming the only cricketer to score 100 International hundreds.
The Indian and English teams were present at the function, which lasted for around 90 minutes. If Alastair Cook and his men show the same ‘staying power’ in the remainder of the Test series, then they’re bound to do much better than in the first Test, in Ahmedabad.
Also in the gathering were former captains Ajit Wadekar, Ravi Shastri, Mohammed Azharuddin, Rahul Dravid and Ramiz Raja.
Besides Gavaskar and Sachin, the BCCI awarded/felicitated Virat Kohli (International Cricketer of the Year for 2011-12) and V.V.S. Laxman, who retired three months ago.
“Hope I can continue the same work this season,” Kohli observed. Laxman, a bit emotional at times, remarked that he was “lucky” to have been in the team at a time India played their “best cricket.” At home and overseas.
The cynosure was Gavaskar — a former India captain and the first to score 10,000 runs in Test cricket.
Just about everybody present made a beeline for Gavaskar to congratulate him. But, before that, was an audio-visual presentation which contained messages from Sachin, Sourav Ganguly and Dravid.
“Mr Gavaskar faced the quickest of bowlers without a helmet... Unbelievable,” is how Sourav, a former captain, put it.
Dravid made the point that Gavaskar had “set the benchmark for a lot of records, which was great for India.”
Sachin recalled a letter he’d received from “Mr Gavaskar,” when he was 12-13, after he’d been overlooked for an award. Sachin described it as a “bigger award.”
Gavaskar, for his part, dedicated his award to the “Indian cricket fans.” Their support “keeps the game going,” he emphasised.
Former India cricketer Madhav Mantri, Gavaskar’s maternal uncle, was present as well. In his speech, Gavaskar mentioned how he’d been stopped by Mantri from wearing his India cap and jumper.
Because the India cap and jumper “had to be earned.” Gavaskar never forgot that.
Wife Marshneil didn’t come, as she wasn’t feeling well, Gavaskar told The Telegraph. One of his sisters (Nutan) was, however, there with her daughter (Saloni).
Footnote: While Bengal’s Ashok Dinda was present to receive his award, Laxmi Ratan Shukla was absent on account of a wedding in the family.