In the history of Indian cricket, Sunil Gavaskar belongs to the greatest of the great. But as a commentator and analyst, while he has been very active, there have been instances of him leaving everyone utterly confused.
In his column for the sports magazine Sportstar, the former Indian captain has said that the reports of a rift between Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma were probably the work of some jealous cricketer and are fuelled further by self-serving board officials. He gave the example of his playing days when stories about him and Kapil Dev not getting along had become popular.
Now, Mr Gavaskar does have a point in cautioning everyone about accepting every rumour as true. But the fact remains that the exacerbation of these rumours has got very little to do with any player in the team. The main blame for letting these stories fester lies with the two cricketers – Virat and Rohit – as they are yet to provide any decent evidence of everything being normal. In fact, Sharma hasn't even spoken yet.
Plus, the unfollowing of Anushka Sharma by the Indian opener and the absence of the latter from the team picture posted by Kohli are things that have added fuel to the fire of conjecture. If the two men were to sit together in a press conference or, for that matter, on 'Chahal TV' and state that things are absolutely fine between them, the story would have lost much of its steam.
But this is not the first time that Gavaskar has made comments which are high on anger but low on substance. Let us remind you of 3 instances where he similarly got carried away by emotions and made comments which look rather odd in retrospect.
Casting aspersions on Varun Aaron
During the 2012 Asia Cup in Bangladesh, a match was being played between the hosts and India. During the first innings of the game, when Bangladesh were batting, there came a time in which the two commentators were Sunil Gavaskar and his son Rohan. In that period, an unfortunate incident took place when Varun Aaron, the Indian bowler delivered an inadvertent beamer that hit Bangladeshi batsman Mushfiqur Rahim. Senior Gavaskar then made a strange comment. He said that a beamer cannot be bowled if the bowler isn't deliberately trying to. In effect, the Indian legend was accusing Aaron of hurting Mushfiqur on purpose. His son covered up the matter a little later by saying that Aaron is a great person and he can say that having played with him. But the man who is the first ever to score 10,000 Test runs certainly got carried away by his emotions there.
Questioning Pakistan's visit, then commentating upon it
Towards the end of 2012, it was announced that the Pakistan team would be visiting India for a small tour comprising of 2 T20Is and 3 ODIs. Just after the announcement of the news, Gavaskar was asked for a reaction by NDTV and he opposed the visit saying, "I am a Mumbaikar" and hence could not approve of a visit by the Pakistan team when nothing has changed regarding their policies related to terrorism directed against India. But guess what, soon his views changed and he was not only not opposing the tour but even partook in it and commentated on it whole-heartedly. Very interesting!
Borderline racist comments on Jamaicans
The famous, or infamous if you are an Indian, Test of 1976 between India and West Indies at Jamaica where the Indian batsmen were hammered into physical submission by a ruthless West Indies pace bowling attack, seeking revenge for their team's defeat in the previous Test, gets good mention in Sunny G's autobiography 'Sunny Days.' But the comments he made about the spectators in Jamaica are quite controversial. "To call the crowd a 'crowd' in Jamaica is a misnomer.... The way they shrieked and howled every time Holding bowled was positively horrible. All this proved beyond a shadow of doubt that these people still belonged to the jungles and forests, instead of a civilised country.... They were stamping their legs, clapping and jumping with joy. The only word I can think of to describe the behaviour of the crowd is 'barbarian.'" These words would create a huge uproar now. But somehow, at that time, they escaped censure.
These are just three examples of Gavaskar's slight indiscretions with the mike or pen in hand. It just goes to show one thing, as great a player as he was, he is not infallible while commentating.