Sunil Gavaskar is a stylish hitter in the 20-year history of All-India Schools Cricket. He did an opening pair massacre of the opponents’ bowling as the West Zone openers did during the last season against Central Zone. Again, never in the same championships were so many runs (421) scored in such a short period (215 minutes). The pair concerned, Anwar Qureshi and Sunil Gavaskar, took on all comers and slammed a double century each.
When Anwar Qureshi left the crease after having knocked up 203 glorious runs, Gavaskar was still there and went on with his innings, merrily driving, pulling, and cutting all that was hurled at his wicket. He moved them far and wide. Nine of the Central bowlers thundered, spun, and yorked, but the stylish hitter Sunil Gavaskar stood rooted. He batted on and on “till the cows came home.” When the West Zone skipper declared the innings closed at 486 for two, the unconquered hero had amassed 242 runs and studded with 42 boundaries in 240 minutes. A fantastic innings indeed!
Talk Of The Town
The stuff that Gavaskar is made of was conclusively proven when he scored another double-century in the next match against East Zone. The manner in which he did it was the talk of the town for days on end. A hundred before lunch and another between lunch and tea! This gives a true indication of the breakneck speed at which he scored. One hundred and sixty-four runs of his score of 222 in 243 minutes came in fours alone.
His stylish square cuts and off-drives off the back foot left the fielders clapping instead of clasping the ball! The final between the West and North Zones revealed Gavaskar in a new role, that of team man. Two wickets had fallen for 28—both at the same total. This would have unnerved anyone. But not Gavaskar. He became patience personified, and in a match-saving, 61-run, fourth-wicket partnership with Eknath Solkar, he stemmed the rot. His 85 runs included 12 fours.
Consistency thus earned him the coveted honor for the junior cricketers in the country, the J. C. Mukerjee Memorial Prize, last season. Sunil Manohar Gavaskar, who was born on July 10, 1949, is known as S. M. Gavaskar. His parents also took great interest in his career, and one could see them keenly watching their son play very often. With the uncle for inspiration and L. B. Kenny as coach, Gavaskar fell into the groove very soon. If his debut in the All-India Schools Championships in 1963 was nothing to write home about, his improvement in the next season was heartening.
Opening the campaign with 12 runs against Maharashtra, he rattled up 68 against Saurashtra in the next match. This earned him a berth as a reserve for the West Zone team. Last season, he was in full cry. He indicated things to come when he slammed 158 runs against Baroda in the final. He put on 234 runs for the first wicket in partnership with Anwar Qureshi. The tocsin was thus sounded.
This lightweight, stylish hitter continued to be in the limelight against the London School boys team. It was Sunil Gavaskar who took the early measure of Suffling, Selvey, Boyer, and Lewis by scoring the first century in the representative matches. A total of 293 runs also included double-figure knocks of 55 and 15 (not out) at Delhi and 35 and 57 at Kanpur. He was the sheet anchor of St. Xavier’s High School in the local Giles and Harris Shield tournaments from 1961 until the last season.
His ability with the willow came to the fore in the second season, when he totaled 400 runs, including two centuries, against Fellowship and Balmohan Schools in the Giles Shield. He piled up a similar total the following year. In the quarterfinal against King George, he shone both with bat and ball, scoring 129 runs and taking five wickets for 62 runs. Balmohan again had a taste of his batting prowess when he hit up 88 runs.
Acme Of Career
By then, he had made his mark on the Harris Shield too. In a third-round match against Maratha High School, which had Eknath Solkar in its ranks, he carried his bat well with 166 runs, including 27 fours. From 0 to 1, he and Milind Rege took the score to 260! In the last season, which was the acme of his career so far, he scored 492 runs, hitting four centuries in the process.
His highest score of 160 against Bombay in the English School was scored before lunch. So far, Sunil Gavaskar has proved a very useful player for the Rajasthan S.C. in the “C” Division of the Kanga League last season—his first-scoring 299 runs in 13 innings. He reformed, not out twice, and hit 75 runs against the Young Mohds. He started this year’s campaign in the league for the same club, which has been promoted to the “B” Division, with a century and 70 runs. Sunil Gavaskar, a first-year science student at St. Xavier’s College who has a penchant for the sweep, is materially full of promise. He is a strong candidate to play for India in the future.