Sunil Gavaskar’s recent comments on the late Shane Warne have subjected him to wide criticism on social media. Notably, the former Indian batsman had refused to admit Australian spin legend Warne as the greatest of all time while discussing his legacy.
Warne holds the distinction of being only the second bowler in the world to have more than 1000 international wickets to name. With 1001 wickets, he is only behind Muttiah Muralitharan (1347 wickets) of Sri Lanka. In Tests, Warne has 708 wickets to his credit, which is also the second-most by any bowler. Muralitharan leads the chart with 800 scalps.
While praising Warne for his bowling, Gavaskar had pointed out that he wasn't the greatest spinner of all time as his performance in India was "pretty ordinary". Not only the fans of Shane Warne but also the media Down Under criticized Gavaskar for the timing of his comments.
"Gavaskar's call was more head-scratching as it came after he admitted Warne's leg-spin was the toughest art to master as a bowler," said a news.com-au in its report. The report also carried a tweet of British journalist Jack Mendal, who said, "Honestly, Sunny, it's not the time ... could have just sidestepped it. The body isn't even cold yet."
"Honestly... It's not the time: Indian legend slammed for 'shameful' Warne claim," read the headline of 'Fox News'.
Here are some of the tweets criticising Gavaskar:
Facts & opinions suit in cricket commentary; NOT at an After Death Speech or in a condolence message. Disrespectful towards departed souls! Real spirit is not in sport but in being a good noble human. Can't compare a departed genius with living players. #shanewarne #sunilgavaskar— Marquiis (@marquis_oza) March 7, 2022
#SunilGavaskar Surprised to Hear this Legendary Player Demeaning @ShaneWarne Legendary Status. How can anyone Deny the Fact that WARNE was & will remain The Greatest & Top Most Legendary Player. If Mr SUNIL doesn’t except his CLASS OF HIS OWN Then He himself stands No Where.— Faisal Moid (@FMmoid) March 8, 2022
However, Gavaskar on Monday expressed regret for his comments on Warne. He said it was not the right time for the comparisons he made.
"In hindsight, that question should not have been asked and I should not have answered as it was not the right time for any comparison or evaluation," Gavaskar posted on Instagram reacting to criticism of his statement.
"Warne was one of the greatest players to ever grace the game. Rodney Marsh was also one of the best wicketkeepers. May their souls rest in peace," he added.
Earlier, the 72-year-old Gavaskar was also lavish in his praise for Warne and acknowledged that he perfected a difficult craft and worked up magic on the field.
"He mastered a craft which is so difficult to master, which is wrist spin. To pick 700-plus wickets like he did in Test cricket plus hundreds more in one-day cricket just tells you how good a bowler he was," Gavaskar said.
"Finger spin is a lot easier, you have a lot more control over what you want to bowl, but leg-spin or wrist spin is very, very tough.
"For him to have bowled the way he did, the way he seemed to create magic, the way he seemed to be able to deliver magic deliveries at will was the reason why he was revered all over the world," he added.
(With PTI Inputs)