HAPPY BIRTHDAY ANSHUMAN GAEKWAD: Anshuman Gaekwad is a former India batter who served as the head coach of the Indian cricket team twice. Gaekwad was known for his calm demeanour while batting and his immaculate ability to stitch up an innings even in the most difficult batting conditions. He represented India in 40 Tests and 15 One-Day Internationals, scoring 2,254 runs across the two formats. He was coach at a time when India saw skippers such as Azharuddin, Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly.
On the 70th birthday of Anshuman Gaekwad, let’s take a look at some of the lesser-known facts about the former India head coach:
Known as the Great Wall
For Indian cricket fans, ‘The Wall’ moniker will always be associated with the legendary Indian cricketer Rahul Dravid. However, it was Anshuman Gaekwad who was bestowed with this nickname early in his career for his extremely defensive batting approach. He stood his ground like a warrior, without a helmet, against terrifying bowling attacks.
Double Hundred against Pakistan
Gaekwad was famous for his patience in the most gruelling situations, and he demonstrated it against India’s arch-rivals Pakistan in Jalandhar. Often criticised for his extremely defensive approach, the right-hand batter shushed all his doubters with an impetuous double hundred in the second Test of Pakistan’s India Test series in 1983. Pakistan batted first and scored 337 runs in the first innings, while India struggled.
They lost early wickets, but Gaekwad held firm. He batted for an astounding 671 minutes and scored 201 off 436 balls with unrivalled confidence. This was also the slowest double-century in first-class cricket at the time. The game ended in a tie, but Gaekwad hogged the headlines and etched his name into the hearts of the Indian supporters.
During the pre-helmet period, Gaekwad experienced a life-threatening moment while playing for India. West Indies legend Michael Holding was bowling a feisty spell against India in Jamaica. One of his lethal short balls hit Gaekwad in the back of his head, while he was batting at 81.
The strike was so severe that Gaekwad had to be rushed to a nearby hospital where he had to spend 48 hours in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). He recovered and returned to play for India after two surgeries and continues to have hearing problems to date.
Twice at the Helm of team India
Gaekwad served as a national selector for the Indian side before taking over as the head coach. His first tenure lasted for two years, from October 1997 to September 1999. He succeeded Madan Lal at a time when India was going through a terrible period in international cricket. His time as the Indian team’s coach was a mixed bag.
His accomplishments in the ODI format were commendable but a disastrous tour of Australia in 1999, along with a dismal World Cup campaign, led to him being sacked from his post of Head coach. Gaekwad returned as the coach after Kapil Dev stepped down as Indian coach in 2000, and served for a small stint before being replaced by India’s first foreign coach John Wright.
Lifetime Achievement Award
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) honoured the pioneering efforts of Anshuman Gaekwad with the coveted CK Nayudu Lifetime Achievement Award in 2018. He was hailed as one of the best coaches in Indian history and was awarded a sum of Rs. 25 lakhs.