Sunil Gavaskar, India’s original “Little Master” recently completed 25 years as a TV commentator. After having established himself as the greatest batsman of his generation, Gavaskar had taken up commentary post his retirement. His first stint as a commentator was during India’s tour of England in 1990. Since then, there has been absolutely no looking back for Gavaskar, who features regularly as a commentator during India’s matches and in the IPL.
Mid Day recently caught up with Gavaskar and congratulated him for completing a silver jubilee in the industry of TV commentary. Gavaskar opened up about his experiences in an interview with Mid Day.
Below are the excerpts from the interview:
Did you always want to become a TV commentator post-retirement?
No, I did not want to become a commentator but once I started doing it, I went wholehearted in it like I do with anything I take up.
You did some TV work before the 1990 Lord’s Test but not ball-by-ball. Did you endure some butterflies in the tummy before coming on air 25 Julys ago?
Yes, I was nervous before my first stint.
Who or what helped calm you?
All my co-commentators were helpful then, but it was Richie Benaud, who gave me some incredible tips and guidance.
It’s important to be neutral when one is on air but was there an occasion when you thought you had to bat for India in an issue?
You have to be neutral when on air. Benaud was the one who told me that there is no ‘we us and them’ in TV commentary. So while I have made observations, they have not necessarily been only for the Indian cricket team. I did ruffle a few feathers at the 2008 Sydney Test where it was an attempt to point out the double standards employed then. (When Benaud passed away last April, Gavaskar wrote in a tribute: “He taught me when to speak, when to pause and some of the subtleties of live TV commentary. If all of us could be as detached as Richie was during commentary then none of the home team bias would come through in the commentary.”)
Finally, can you name your five best TV commentators you have worked with?
I have worked with a wonderful bunch of guys and it’s been tremendous fun so picking a few would be unfair to the others.