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'Mumbai's strength is bouncing back from difficult situations'

Batting legend hails Mumbai’s cricketing culture on his Ranji Trophy commentary debut

After years of globetrotting, first as a player and then as commentator, the legendary Sunil Gavaskar made his commentary debut in first-class cricket yesterday during the ongoing Ranji Trophy quarter-final clash between Mumbai and Maharashtra at the Wankhede Stadium.

He spoke to MiD DAY about his preparation, commentating with son Rohan and the health of Mumbai cricket. Excerpts:

Sunil and Rohan Gavaskar
Sunil and Rohan Gavaskar in the commentary box yesterday. Pic/Suresh KK

On agreeing to commentate for the first time in a first-class match…
Cricket is what I enjoy, whether it is an international match or a first-class game. This was a rare opportunity. Most of the time for all these years, I have been out of the country whenever first-class matches happen in India. This time I was here and luckily the match was also in Mumbai which meant there was no travel. Next time, again I am out. There was an opportunity here and I just took it.

On preparations for his Ranji debut as commentator…
I had to update myself on the progress of the two teams (Mumbai and Maharashtra). Did they struggle or was it an easy passage to the quarter-final? Who are the star players, top performers and guys to watch out for? If you are generally aware of the teams, then the nitty-gritty and details are provided by the stats man. They (statisticians) make our life a lot easier. 

On the difference between commentating in an international match and first-class game…
We are lucky to have statisticians in the commentary box. A lot of credit goes to them and also to the directors, producers and cameramen. Commentators are generally the face of the broadcaster, but there is so much that goes into make a broadcaster successful. Cameramen are the stars who brave different weather. Statisticians are a boon to the commentators. They update you about the players — what are their records — if any player is short by five runs to complete 1000 runs or two wickets short of completing 200 wickets. Without them, all of us (commentators) would be stranded. The only difference after my first day here is that the buzz of international cricket is missing.

On commentating with son Rohan…
Commentating with him is always fun. Quite clearly, I can pull his leg (on air) while he can’t pull mine. In other commentary pairings, the other commentator can also pull your leg so it’s an advantage for me to commentate with Rohan.

On Rohan’s progress as a commentator…
I haven’t really heard much of him because of my travel schedule. I am getting good, positive feedback from others which is important. The first time we did commentary together was in a one-day international against Australia at Ranchi (last year).

On Mumbai cricket’s future…
Mumbai cricket always had resilience. In the last match (against Gujarat at Valsad) when it looked they would be out of it, they bounced back to qualify for the quarter-final. So, that resilience is still there. Mumbai’s strength is to bounce back from difficult situations. It may not happen always and there will be times when we lose, but the resilience gives you hope that the standards will be maintained. This team is a good mix of youth and experience. I hope they continue their winning streak. I have confidence in Mumbai cricket. 

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