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Sunil Gavaskar: Without my family's love and support, life would be nothing

On the occasion of his 67th birthday, legendary former Indian cricket captain Sunil Gavaskar settles down for a candid interview with mid-day.com, from London

What does a birthday mean to you?
Birthdays are great fun as the whole family gathers and there is plenty of laughter and memories of past birthdays are talked about.

Sunil Gavaskar
Sunil Gavaskar

These days you go to any country in the Europe to celebrate your birthday. Like this year, you are in London...
Yes, for the last several years my birthday has been in London where I come to recover from a hectic Indian Premier League season.

Tell us something about your family members - wife Pammi, son Rohan, daughter-in-law Swati, grandchildren Reya and Vivan...
Without their love and support, life would be nothing. I am also blessed by the affection of many well-wishers who keep sending me their good wishes and greetings so many years after my retirement.

Also read: Sunil Gavaskar - The 'Little Master' in Test cricket

Your mother Meenal is 90-plus...
My mother is going to complete 91 years on Independence Day.

It is learnt that Amitabh Bachchan and Kapil Dev wish you every year on your birthday. How do they manage to contact you while you are abroad?
These two legends and good friends unfailingly contact and wish me on my birthday every year. I am truly lucky to get theirs and many others' wishes every year.

Have you taken your grandchildren Vivan and Reya to the Mound Stand at Lord's where they can see their grandfather's picture and a special room named after him?
No, I haven't taken Reya and Vivan to Lord's as yet though both have come to the Wankhede Stadium which is my home stadium and therefore more important to me.

How old are Vivan and Reya? Is Vivan showing any interest in cricket?
Reya is going to be 11 on Sir Don Bradman's birth anniversary (August 27) and Vivan is 6. Both are too young to decide what they want to do. Both have an artistic bent of mind and I have Reya's painting which she gave me on my earlier birthday, in my office.

Did the appointment of Anil Kumble as India's head coach surprised you?
I am not surprised at Anil applying for the job. Even though a cricketer retires from international cricket he still wants to serve the game in some capacity and Anil will be doing that now with the same distinction and determination that he brought to his cricket.

How successful will the Kumble-Kohli combination be?
It is too early to say if the Kumble-Kohli combination will be successful or not, but it won't be for lack of trying since both are determined cricketers who want only the best for India.

India is in the West Indies without a bowling coach. Do you think Kumble will be able to manage that department?
Anil will decide how to spread the responsibilities so only he can answer that question.

Are you surprised that Kumble has been appointed only for a year?
In every job there is a trial period after which there is an extension so I am sure that's what will happen with Anil.

Ravi Shastri has been removed only after one-and-a-half year while Duncan Fletcher, who didn't enjoy great success was around for four years...
Ravi did a terrific job and lifted the morale and psyche of a defeated team with his gung-ho approach and never-give-up attitude and that can be seen not just in the results of the team but also the positivity that they radiated on and off the field. His has been a huge contribution to the development of this young team.

Your prediction of the India vs West Indies Test series...
I am not a fortune-teller to predict the outcome, but I would be surprised if India don' win the series.

Do you think the Caribbean pitches, especially in Jamaica and Barbados, have lost their pace?
The difference in assessing the pace of the pitch from 22 yards and from 75 metres is huge, so I won't speculate on that.

You will be in the West Indies soon for commentary. Does it feel special to be at the Queen's Park Oval in Trinidad where you made your Test debut in 1971?
Ever since my debut in Trinidad, I have considered it as my second home. So yes, I am looking forward to going there again.

Do you think the pink ball will attract crowds in day-night Test matches?
I haven't seen a pink ball game live so I won't be able to say anything on this. Hopefully, many more will come to watch the game after their working hours.

The Duleep Trophy will be played with the pink ball. Do you support it?
I am okay with the experiment of playing the Duleep Trophy with the pink ball.

What about Ranji Trophy games on neutral venues?
Playing Ranji games at neutral venues is mainly to avoid the issue of pitches being made to suit the home team so let's wait and see.

The Board has announced a mini IPL for 15 days in September. Will it be very exciting?
A mini IPL would be interesting, but the Champions League would be infinitely more interesting.

Also view...

Birthday special: Sunil Gavaskar in pictures (Click here to view images)
Birthday special: Sunil Gavaskar in pictures

Sunil Gavaskar's birthday: Memorable double tons by Indians in Tests (View images)
Sunil Gavaskar's birthday: Memorable double tons by Indians in Tests

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