Bengaluru, July 10: Sunil Gavaskar was, perhaps, the first super star of Indian cricket - batsman who told Indians that they can stand up against the best in business. And he turned 69 on Tuesday (July 10).
But that's a mere number as the 'Sunny Tales' continue to inspire millions - aspiring cricketers and established names. Gavaskar was the first batsman to cross the 10,000-run mark in Test cricket and held the record of most number of Test hundreds (34) until Sachin Tendulkar overtook him.
The tally of 774 runs at a shade over 154 he scored against the West Indies is still the most runs made by a batsman in his Test series debut. To honour that, Lord Relator composed a Calypso for Gavaskar - "We Couldn't Out Gavaskar At All.'
Of course, the numbers are impressive but what the aura around the Mumbaikar shine brighter was the way he tackled the fearsome West Indian fast bowlers of the 70s and 80s. When several other batsmen's heartbeat quickened up alarmingly over the prospect of facing up to the likes of Michael Holding, Andy Roberts, Malcolm Marshal, Colin Croft and Joel Garner, Gavaskar milked runs against them using an immaculate defensive technique.
But make no mistake, Gavaskar was not just a one-sided dour batsman, the Mumbaikar was also equally adept at pulling and hooking. But the Indian batting in those times was dependent on him for the big runs and that made Gavaskar trade flair with solidity.
Off the field, Gavaskar was also a person good at marketing himself. Along with Kapil Dev, who appeared for Palmolive and Boost, Gavaskar, perhaps, was one of the early time cricketers who realised the commercial value of being an Indian cricketer. He appeared in several commercials including Dinesh Suiting and Thumbs Up.
Post retirement, Gavaskar confirmed himself as a premier commentator and columnist and occasionally dabbled at administrative positions like the Chairman of National Cricket Academy (NCA) in Bengaluru.
In his heydays as a cricketer, Gavaskar also cut a few albums in Marathi besides singing in a few Marathi movies. The former Indian captain, under whose leadership India won the 1985 World Championship in Australia, also continues to be a lover of badminton and golf.
How Tweeple reacted
Wishing the man with a flair, batting maestro, the little master - Mr. Sunil Gavaskar a very Happy Birthday! pic.twitter.com/lrfuN0MApi— BCCI (@BCCI) July 10, 2018
आपल्या कौशल्यपूर्ण खेळीने क्रिकेटच्या मैदानावर असंख्य सामने जिंकून, चाहत्यांची मने जिंकणार्या, महान क्रिकेटपटू, Sunil Gavaskar, यांना वाढदिवसाच्या हार्दिक शुभेच्छा. तुम्हाला पुढील वर्ष सुखाचे जावो. pic.twitter.com/R2TXZEafqA— Sachin Tendulkar (@sachin_rt) July 10, 2018
Birthday Greetings to my childhood hero and inspiration, Sunil Gavaskar. Playing fearlessly against the most fearsome bowlers in their own conditions, he instilled courage and belief in many young Indian batsmen. Have a great day and year ahead, Sunny Bhai pic.twitter.com/Odv84zHKPA— VVS Laxman (@VVSLaxman281) July 10, 2018
Today, #SunnySideUp ,for a man who taught a- not very high on confidence generation , 'Fusfusana Band-India bano Dabanng'. He was truly a Dabanng for his courage to face bowlers who looked like killing you,without any fear and protective gear.— Virender Sehwag (@virendersehwag) July 10, 2018
Happy Birthday Sunil Gavaskar. pic.twitter.com/UDxL12QsrQ