Former India captain Sunil Gavaskar on Friday said Anshuman Gaekwad has given Indian cricket everything as a player, as a coach, as an administrator and as a selector. (More Cricket News)
Gavaskar also praised his former teammate for showing guts against the menacing West Indian fast bowlers early on in his career.
During the launch of Gaekwad's biography "Guts Amidst Bloodbath" in Mumbai on Friday at the Brabourne Stadium, Gavaskar recalled his days opening for India along side the former and the blow he took on his head during the Jamaica Test in 1976.
"With Anshu being hit on the head, it was never a pleasant experience. The way he had been shaping up was unbelievable. We had won the previous Test, we had chased 400 which was a record, when we came into the last Test the series was 1-1.
"The West Indies and Clive Lloyd were desperate, they had just come in from a hammering by Australia in Australia 5-1, he was desperate to keep his captaincy, to win," Gavaskar said.
"He won the toss and asked us to bat first. On Day One at lunch, we were together. At lunchtime, they must have had some discussion and suddenly the whole tactics changed. After lunch, Michael Holding, Wayne Daniel and everybody started coming down the wicket, bowling four or five bounces and one beamer. It was a test of fire.
"Both of us were ducking and leaving as much as we could, but beamers were the difficult one – they were not out-lawed at that stage. The pitch had a lot of bounce and carry, the ball would sometimes get off the length which is what happened to Anshu. Before he could do anything, it struck him," he added.
Gavaskar recalled how he accompanied Gaekwad to the hospital in an ambulance.
"We had to take him to a hospital. The fact that Anshu showed the guts that he did, every time there was a series against the West Indies, Anshu was always recalled to the team. If it was West Indies, it was Anshu, but if it was some other series, it was some other partner… because of his guts.
"And so those are the guts we have seen on the field, guts to speak his mind off the field as well, which is why he is what he is – a very well respected figure in Indian cricket," he said.
Former India batter Gundappa Viswanath also recalled the same incident.
"In Jamaica, on the second day, during the last over, Mohinder (Amarnath) got out and I went in to bat. Just the third ball, I faced off Michael (Holding), it just rose and hit the sight screen behind the wicketkeeper and came back. Immediately (after), there was the drinks interval, I asked Anshu, 'what exactly happened with that ball?'
"He said, 'Sir, I have been playing since yesterday, I don't know what is happening.' Still, after that, he kept playing, took blows all over his body and never flinched. That's why it was the bravest innings. Even when he was hit on the ear and had to retire hurt, he never shied away and was behind the ball," Viswanath said.
Dilip Vengsarkar revealed Gaekwad's nickname, Charlie, was apparently given by a bar girl on a tour to New Zealand.
"We were sitting in a bar. Everyone was ordering a drink. And the bar girl asked him: 'What can I serve you, Charlie?' I asked her why Charlie and she said he was wearing specs. That's how he was nicknamed Charlie," he remembered.
Vengsakar also recalled the Jamaica Test in which Gaekwad produced an exemplary display of courage.
"One ball just took off and hit him straight on the ear. I could see he was really perturbed and told him whether he wanted to go inside. Then I could see blood coming out of his ear and I called for ice. Eknath Solkar was the 12th man, he came out with ice, he saw him and started shouting, 'There is blood, there is blood!' I told him, 'Speak softly. Already I am scared, don't scare me off more'."