Sunil Gavaskar, the Little Master, was conferred with the SJFI Medal while both he and Ravi Shastri were conferred with the Honorary Life Membership of the Sports Journalists’ Federation of India for their contribution to cricket as commentators, writers and analysts at a snappy and nostalgic event on Tuesday evening.
Gavaskar, who received the medal and the citation from former BCCI secretary SK Nair and current joint secretary Jayesh George, said he was thrilled to accept the medal.
“My connection with the media began even while I was playing cricket. During my second year of playing cricket, I wrote an article for the Sportsweek. Mr (Sharad) Kotnis was the deputy editor and he was also the manager of the West Zone team that win the Cooch Behar Trophy. In those days, there was considerable interaction between the media and the players. There was a trust factor."
“You could talk and you could sense that they wanted you to do well, they wished you well and that they wanted you to go forward in your career and that they would help you with their articles. That was such a big thing for a budding cricketer.”
Shastri also waxed eloquent about his association with the media and spoke of the ‘recall’ factor that the print medium held. “It’s a great honour to get this award because when I look at the faces here, a lot of you have covered a lot of my career. You don’t know how thankful we are for that period of time because print media was king. If there is a recall factor of the some of the games we played in the decades gone by, it is because of your articles.
“It’s amazing what print media did then. When you read, you recall. When you see, you don’t recall so much. For example, when I hit those six sixes (off Tilak Raj in the Ranji Trophy), it was The Hindu that carried photos of all six sixes, there was no television. That’s how important print media was. Having been part of the media since I finished the game, I realise is that it is a very responsible profession where you can actually brainwash people, you can actually make them believe what you say is gospel, which shouldn’t be the case.
“You got to respect that professional, you got to respect the individual you are talking about and take the game forward. Where I see a sea change in the media is competition, and with competition comes hard acts, tactics, one-upmanship, jealousy.”
The presentation ceremony was presided over by A Vinod, the SJFI president.