Dujon cherishes Gavaskar souvenir

Gavaskar, Dujon turn back the clock to December 1983 when the Indian batting great presented the WI' keeper with his record-breaking willow

Sunil Gavaskar and Jeff Dujon couldn't stop smiling when asked to recall their own versions of an incident at Chennai in December 1983 when the batting great handed his broken bat to the West Indies wicketkeeper after surpassing Sir Donald Bradman's tally of 29 Test centuries.

Jeff Dujon and Sunil Gavaskar at the Wankhede yesterday. Pic/Atul

While Dujon expressed his surprise at Gavaskar agreeing to his request, the master batsman called it a rare, on-field friendly gesture, between opposition players. "Jeffrey was keeping wickets. I was well past a hundred when he just said to me, 'when your bat sounds good, when you've had enough, just look behind'.

The bat Gavaskar used during the 1983-84 series vs West Indies

I remembered that while I continued to bat. So, at the end of the day's play, I gave him the bat because I had another bat with me," Gavaskar said. Dujon's version of the story was not identical. "It sounded as if his bat had broken. So I said to him, 'Sunny, your bat is broken.' He replied immediately, 'yes, it's broken.

I'll have to change it when we go into the change room'. I said, 'well, I wouldn't mind having it.' And he didn't say anything. He was blank. I wanted it because I knew the significance of the bat. He was already past a hundred. We also used bats from the same company at the time -- Gray Nicholls," Dujon recalled.

Dujon continued: "At the end of the day, when we were walking off, he turned around and said, 'this is for you.' Subsequently, I asked him to sign it. I have it ever since." So, did Gavaskar surpassing Sir Don's tally influence Dujon's request? "I realised the significance of it. If I had asked him for one of his other bats or whatever, he would have still given it to me. We had that kind of relationship.

It's just one of those things in your career that you remember. Sunny is a great batsman, a fantastic cricketer, a very good human being, and a good friend of mine. So, it's just a memory that we share."He asked me a few days ago if I still had it. I told him, 'yes, I keep it under lock and key. Because, some of my friends are fond of the significance of it, I just think it is safer when locked up. I only tell them, 'it is not up for auction, it is a piece of memorabilia that I treasure more than anything else.' "

Gavaskar said: "I am sure other such friendly exchanges have taken place, but maybe, more on the field than off it. That's why this was more special." Dujon felt that such gestures were missing in the modern day game.

"The game has changed quite a bit. Some say it's because they are playing for higher stakes. For me, in my time, the stakes were just as high because we were playing for national pride. That was all I played cricket for -- for the West Indies. Maybe, friendly gestures have reduced, players don't get on as much, don't socialise as much today. It was common those days at the end of the day for one of the players from the opposition to wander over to our dressing room for a drink, chat or whatever.

"Or we used to go into their dressing room for a drink, chat or whatever. We actually talked about cricket.
"To be quite honest, when I first came into Test cricket, I learned a lot by that kind of interaction with the opposition. This is probably not as prevalent as it used to be," Dujon concluded.

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