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Sunny days again

Devendra Prabhudesai on what inspired him to write a biography on Sunil Gavaskar

PHOTO: K. MURALI KUMAR

MASTER PLAYER Sunil Gavaskar is shown in all his avatars

On that historic tour of the West Indies in 1971, Sunil Manohar Gavaskar and G.R. Visvanath roomed together in the second half, and SMG being the `junior' partner had to play second fiddle, doing things such as opening the door if the bell rang at an unearthly hour. GRV would ask room service to bring coffee every morning at 7, and SMG would open the door. But GRV would sleep till 8! When SMG ran out of patience and requested his senior to order coffee at 8 a.m., since that was when he consumed it, his response was: "I like cold coffee!"

This anecdote, and many more, embellish the latest tribute to Gavaskar, in a book penned by Devendra Prabhudesai.

Titled SMG, and published by Rupa, it is comprehensive, well researched, and a fitting salute to a cricketer who earned respect for Indian cricket.

This is Devendra's third book after The Nice Guy Who Finished First (a biography of Rahul Dravid) and Cricket World Cup (an account of 70 best World Cup matches). Devendra, Manager, Media Relations and Corporate Affairs, BCCI, started work on SMG in April 2006. "You cannot push yourself while working on a book like this. It is a happy coincidence that Gavaskar will be turning 60 later this year. There is no better time than this to remember the individual who initiated the team's climb to the peak all those years ago."

But why Gavaskar? "He was my childhood hero, and I also had the opportunity to work with him. I felt that it would be good if a comprehensive tribute was paid to the man who made Indian cricket believe in itself, and proved that Indian cricketers could be as good, if not better, than others, consistently."

On the toughest part? "Describing Gavaskar's best innings was as challenging as it was enjoyable. It was a conscious decision to begin the book with an account of his epic 96 against Pakistan on a Bangalore minefield in 1986-1987, his last Test innings. That knock hasn't got even half the attention and importance that it deserves. I have begun with that innings, and shifted to the chronological format thereafter," says Devendra, 33.

"I have done my best to showcase Gavaskar in his innumerable `avatars.' I have dwelt on all that he has done since his retirement as a cricketer in 1987 too. Life was never the same after I first read Gavaskar's Sunny Days at the age of seven in 1983. He inspired me to not only play cricket, but also write about it. Today, my life has come a full circle!"

No wonder, Gavaskar paid the young Devendra a memorable compliment. "Devendra, there are some things you know about me which I didn't know myself. Just goes to show how much effort you put in this compilation. Thanks very much for it shows sentiments which are truly appreciated."

The book is almost a history of Indian cricket from 1971, and it features significant happenings of the 1970s and 1980s, on and off the field. Needless to say, SMG is a must read and a worthy addition to your cricket library.

VIJAY LOKPALLY

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