Sunil Gavaskar, who led team India to a famous series win over the mighty West Indies in 1978/79 at home, has claimed that he still has no idea why he was removed as captain despite his side triumphing over the Windies. Gavaskar was replaced as captain for the next series by S Venkataraghavan.
After being appointed captain of the national cricket team at the age of 27, in 1976, Sunil Gavaskar’s leadership hit an all time high in late 1978, when the Indian side, led by him, downed the mighty Windies 1-0 in a six-Test series that was played at home. Gavaskar led the side from the front by scoring 732 runs with the bat in the series and despite five of the six Tests remarkably ending as a draw, the Indians beat the Windies in Chennai to seal a famous series win.
However, controversy then ensued as astonishingly, Gavaskar, despite leading the side to a series win, was replaced as captain for India’s very next series, a tour of England, by S Venkataraghavan, only to be reappointed a series later, against Australia at home.
Reflecting on the bizarre decision by the management, the Little Master claimed that he, till date, has no idea as to why the team decided to do away with him as captain despite him leading the side to a series win over the Windies.
“I was replaced as captain despite India winning the series against the West Indies (1978-79) and in which I got more than 700 runs. I still don’t know the reason for it, but can only surmise that it was because I had been pretty open about the offer to join Kerry Packer’s World Series Cricket. However, I signed the BCCI contract before the selection, thereby proving where my loyalties lay,” Gavaskar wrote in his column for Mid-Day, reported Hindustan Times.
Alongside Gavaskar, another mainstay, a nucleus of the Indian Test side in the 1970s was left-arm spinner Bishan Singh Bedi, who finished his career with 266 Test wickets to his name. As things panned out, Bedi played his last series for India in the tour of England in 1979, but Gavaskar revealed that the management were hell-bent on dropping the left-arm spinner for the entire tour.
The 70-year-old revealed that it was him who convinced the selectors to pick Bedi for three Tests and added that the emergence of both Kapil Dev and Karsan Ghavri hindered the luxurious life that the Indian spinners had led in the team, up until that point.
“The committee decided to drop Mr BS Bedi after three Test matches. In fact, they wanted to drop him straightaway after I replaced him as skipper after the series loss in Pakistan. I argued that he was still the best left-arm spinner in the country and so they reluctantly agreed to pick him for the first Test,” Gavaskar said.
“Kapil Dev had just come on the scene then and along with Karsan Ghavri had formed a potent new ball pair for India. The spinners therefore didn’t get the kind of spells they were used to. The pitches were absolute beauties to bat on with little help for the spinners. The selectors wanted to leave out Mr BS Bedi for the second and third Test too, but I managed to convince them not to.”
The legendary right-hander, who made his debut in 1971 as a 22-year-old, called time on his glorious career in 1987, after having scored over 13,000 international runs.