Gavaskar suggests an Indian Hall of Fame

By Kersi Meher-Homji

Last month India’s prolific opening batsman Sunil Gavaskar and Australia’s ebullient wicket-keeper batsman Adam Gilchrist were made Sir Donald Bradman honourees for 2010 at a glittering function at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

The previous honourees for the Hall of Fame were all Australians: Norman O’Neill in 2006, Neil Harvey and Sam Loxton in 2007, Bill Brown and Arthur Morris in 2008 and Alan Davidson and Dennis Lillee in 2009.

Gavaskar’s honour is timely, given that the International Cricket Hall of Fame will be complete this month. This unique museum will comprise nine themed exhibitions incorporating interactive technology new to Australia. It will trace cricket history, demonstrate today’s game and provide inspiration for tomorrow. Through this new attraction, the Bradman Foundation aims to keep Sir Donald’s vision vibrant and relevant.

It was a pleasure catching up with ”˜Sunny’ Gavaskar before the gala ceremony and interviewing him for The Indian Down Under. We chatted for two hours and walked two miles in sunny Sydney from his hotel in Woolloomooloo to Kings Cross Station, then to Town Hall and QVB, recalling good old days.

Despite jetlag Sunny visited the Bradman Museum development in Bowral only a few hours after landing in Sydney. He was excited about the Hall of Fame theme.

He agreed with me that India should also have a Hall of Fame in India as well, something like Ranji Museum or Vijay Merchant’s Hall of Fame. “Such structures are the foundations of the game,” he said.

“Sunny, your feelings on becoming the first non-Australian Bradman honouree, ahead of Sobers, Richards, Botham, Imran”¦?

“A huge honour, Kersi. I grew up hearing stories of Don and Vijay Merchant’s big scoring, a century was not enough for them. They would go to 200 and 300.”

Any recollections of Bradman?

“I recall my first visit to Australia with the World XI led by Garry Sobers in 1971-72 with nostalgia. I met Sir Don for the first time on that tour. At a get-together at the Adelaide airport, Don came round looking for ”˜that little fellow’ — me! When we two were having a chat, Sobers joked: ”˜Hey, you little blokes must gang up together, huh!’ Don turned to me and quipped: ”˜These big blokes have the power, but we little ones have the footwork, huh!’ ”

The Test you recall with nostalgia?

“My debut Test at Port-of-Spain in 1971 when I scored 60s in both innings and India won her first ever Test against the Windies.”

Which bowler troubled you the most?

“Andy Roberts from the West Indies was the best. I could not relax against him even after scoring a century. He had more variety than any other bowler I faced and he could surprise.”

On that note of surprise and pleasure we parted company but with a promise to exchange more e-mails.

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