The ‘M’ in Sunil Gavaskar’s initials, inscribed in various scorecards of Test matches, has been summoned by the eternal scorer. Manohar (88) Gavaskar passed away peacefully in Bangalore yesterday at the home of Gundappa Vishwanath, the husband of his daughter Kavita.
Manohar Gavaskar had an eventful life in which he witnessed the cricketing exploits of four cricketers in his family – his brother-in-law Madhav Mantri, son Sunil, son-in-law Vishwanath and grandson Rohan, who played one-day international cricket for India.
Manohar Gavaskar was a good club cricketer, who used to keep wicket and open the batting. Former Mumbai player Vilas Godbole remembers Gavaskar Sr as a hard-hitting batsman, who scored a splendid hundred in the Kanga League for Rajasthan Sports Club in the late 1950s. “He was our captain and I remember him piercing the knee-high grass to the longest boundary of the Azad Maidan during that innings. He was a very aggressive captain, who loved cracking jokes in the tent,” said Godbole.
According to a family member, Manohar Gavaskar was called Danda Master by the great Vinoo Mankad after being at the receiving end of his big-hitting in a club match at Kennedy Sea Face. Young Sunil used to attend his father’s matches too. “Sunil used to do scoring and in the lunch and tea intervals, we had to bowl to him,” recalled Godbole.
Vijay Bhosle, who batted in the top order for Baroda, Maharashtra and Mumbai in domestic cricket, recalled how “loving” and “particular” his Hindu Colony (Dadar) neighbour was. “A common wall divided our buildings and we used to be in and out of each other’s home (Sunil loved the Shrikhand that Bhosle’s wife prepared).
Mr and Mrs Gavaskar used to have a board at home that listed the birthdays of their near and dear ones. If it was your birthday, the first call you got in the morning was from them,” recalled Bhosle Godbole cites an example of Manohar Gavaskar’s memory. “I wrote an article for a newspaper several years ago which mentioned his days with Rajasthan Sports Club. He sent me a letter appreciating my work, but pointed out that I had forgotten to mention the name of our left-arm spinner, Madhav Vasishta.”
Madhav Apte, the former India batsman recalled their common interest – textiles. Manohar Gavaskar worked for a textile firm while Apte owned mills. Veteran journalist G K Menon remembers being asked often by Manohar Gavaskar as his son took his first steps in Mumbai cricket: “How good is Sunil?”.
Doubtless, Manohar Gavaskar was an encouraging father. Sunil Gavaskar wrote in Sunny Days (Published by Rupa & Co): “My parents gave me every encouragement and, as an inducement, promised me ten rupees for every hundred I scored. Even in those days the value of money was not lost on me, and I remember one year when I almost put the household budget in disarray with my centuries.
My father, however was delighted and paid up cheerfully. Often, when he returned home in the evening, he would take out his wallet and ask me if I had scored a century and would be most disappointed if I said no.” Sunil Gavaskar dedicated his best-selling book, ‘Sunny Days’ to “aai-baba my parents”