Gavaskar reveals why he was removed as India captain despite beating West Indies 

Sunil Gavaskar had led from the front with over 700 runs in India's 1-0 series victory.

Sunil Gavaskar | ReutersSunil Gavaskar recalled how he was controversially removed as captain of India in 1979. Gavaskar was sacked from his position at the helm despite having just captained the side to a home Test series win against the West Indies. 

It was a six-Test rubber where the great batsman led from the front, scoring 732 runs at an average of 91.50, including four hundreds. Yet, Gavaskar was replaced by S Venkataraghavan after the series.

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In his column for Mid-Day, Gavaskar revealed it was the board politics that triggered that decision, as he was open to playing in the Kerry Packer's World Series Cricket at the time. 

"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," wrote Test cricket's first 10,000 run-maker. 

"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 then noted how he had to fight for Bishan Singh Bedi to be retained in the side against the selectors' will, at a time when they were hell-bent on dropping him, having removed him as skipper following the unsuccessful Test series in Pakistan in 1978. 

"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."

"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."

Gavaskar got that one his way, but unfortunately, he couldn't succeed in the quest to have Rajinder Goel or Padmakar Shivalkar in the Indian team. Both spinners, legends of the Indian domestic game, never represented their country at the highest level. 

"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," he wrote. 

"Kindly remember the India captain is co-opted to the selection committee but has no vote. However, after the conclusion of the third Test and anticipating that the Chennai pitch was going to be one with more bounce, the selectors went for Dhiraj Parsana, who like Ghavri could bowl both seam and spin."

"This is where I couldn't convince the committee to pick either (Rajinder) Goel Saab or (Padmakar) Shivalkar," Gavaskar concluded. 

(Inputs from Mid-Day)


By Kashish Chadha - 29 Jun, 2020

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