The Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) on Friday honoured two of India’s greatest cricketers — legendary Sunil Gavaskar and ‘Lord of Lords’ Dilip Vengsarkar, at a gala function at their home ground — the iconic Wankhede stadium here. The cricket body first presented a hospitality box to the 72-year-old Gavaskar, who made his Test debut on March 06, 1971 at the Port of Spain against the mighty West Indies.
Gavaskar, a former India captain and veteran of 125 Tests, earlier this year completed 50 years in international cricket. Also, on the occasion, the MCA inaugurated the ‘Dilip Vengsarkar stand’ in the honour of the former national chairman of selectors and a veteran of 116 Tests.
Both Gavaskar and Vengsarkar were present on the occasion. Also, present were former India opener and stylish player GR Viswanath, who is also the brother-in-law of Gavaskar, cricket icon Sachin Tendulkar, former ICC, BCCI and MCA chief Sharad Pawar, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and host of senior MCA office-bearers, including president Vijay Patil and secretary Sanjay Naik and Mumbai mayor Kishori Pednekar. The Association also kicked off the ‘Madhav Mantri centenary year celebrations’.
Addressing the gathering, Vishwanath in his over 30-minute speech heaped praise on both Gavaskar and Vengsarkar and recollected several anecdotes about the two players. Tendulkar too recollected memories of Madhav Mantri Sir, Gavaskar and Vengsarkar.
“When we speak about discipline, the first name that comes to my mind is Madhav Mantri Sir, who was like a father figure to me. On that England tour (in 1991), I got my first Test hundred and Sir (Madhav Mantri) was very happy. It was 14th August. We also kept alive the series,” he said and also remembered how Madhav Mantri accompanied him to his “first” press conference. Tendulkar also recollected how he met Gavaskar for the first time during the 1987 World Cup, when he worked as ball boy at this historic venue inside the dressing room. “When I was selected for the first time in Ranji Trophy probables, Gavaskar’s name was there in the list and I was looking forward to play alongside, but that dream remained unfulfilled,” he said and also recalled that it was due to late ‘cricket drona’ Vasu Paranjpe that he first met Dilip Vengsarkar, who asked legendary Kapil Dev to bowl him in the India nets.
Tendulkar also recalled anecdotes of the epic ‘1991 Ranji Trophy’ final, when he saw tears in Vengsarkar’s eyes. That year domestic giants Mumbai lost that final, one of the most remembered games in the domestic history, to Haryana by two runs.
“The stand, which we are seeing after his (Vengsarkar’s) name, it is a tribute to those tears,” quipped Tendulkar. Vengsarkar thanked the Association and the Apex Council members for the honour bestowed upon him. “I first played a match here in 1974 and that stand was being built (then),” added Vengsarkar, also a former India captain and an office-bearer of the Association.
Gavaskar thanked the MC for the big honour bestowed upon him and also recollected anecdotes about Madhav Mantri. The legendary opening batsman also thanked veteran cricket columnist Makarand Waingankar.