Former Indian cricket captain Sunil Gavaskar is one of the best cricketers that India has ever produced. The right-handed batsman was the first Indian cricketer who truly dominated world-class bowlers. However, as much as Sunil Gavaskar was revered by the cricketing fraternity during his playing days, he was often axed as the skipper of the national team by the BCCI.
Sunil Gavaskar recalled the incident and opined that his axing from captaincy could be because he signed a deal to play in Kerry Packer’s World Series Cricket. Interestingly, Sunil Gavaskar was stripped off India's captaincy after India beat the West Indies 1-0 in the six-match Test series and was replaced by S Venkataraghvan. In that series, Sunil Gavaskar was the leading run-scorer as he amassed 732 runs at a stunning average of 91.50 with four centuries and one half-century. Even Sunil Gavaskar was taken aback after he was sidelined by the BCCI despite his impressive performance.
In his column for Mid-Day, Sunil Gavaskar wrote that he was replaced as captain despite India winning the series against the West Indies (1978-79) and in which he got more than 700 runs. He added that he still doesn’t know the reason for it, but having signed the BCCI contract before the selection, he proved where his loyalties lied.
Sunil Gavaskar also spoke about how he tried to urge the selectors to continue with skipper Bishan Singh Bedi, who led India on the tour of Pakistan. The veteran said that he couldn’t change the selectors’ mind about picking the late Rajinder Goel or Padmakar Shivalkar for Team India. Gavaskar reckoned that they wanted to drop Bishan Singh Bedi straightaway after he replaced him as skipper after the series loss in Pakistan. The 70-year old argued that Bishan Singh Bedi was still the best left-arm spinner in the country and so the BCCI reluctantly agreed to pick him for the first Test.
Ironically, Rajinder Goel, who was the highest wicket-taker of all-time in the Ranji Trophy, passed away last week and Bishan Singh Bedi was amongst those paying him the highest tribute.
The legendary cricketer wasn't much of a success as India's captain, having often shared the mantle with either S Venkataraghavan or Kapil Dev. In 47 Tests, Gavaskar could only lead India to nine wins, out of which seven came in home conditions. In ODIs, Gavaskar captained the team in 37 games, guiding them to 14 victories. However, his captaincy stint ended on a memorable note with five wins on the trot as well as the Benson and Hedges World Championship of Cricket in Australia in 1986. Sunil Gavaskar was also said to have been the brainchild for Ravi Shastri opening the batting in the 80s, coming up from No.10.