IT ALL HAPPENED at the Melbourne Stadium where Sunil Gavaskar — as part of ESPN — had just finished his commentary and asked for tea. The ESPN production staff didn’t know he always had biscuits along with tea. Standing close, I asked my wife to quickly buy a packet from a departmental store across the stadium. Gavaskar noticed it and smiled. The biscuits were for his wife, Marshneil, who had just walked into the stadium. It had to be there. For him, if it’s a routine, it had to be followed.
Why not? For the little master, everything had to be meticulous. If he were out for a low score, the entire dressing room would plunge into a silence zone because ‘the God’ had failed. His cold war with Kapil Dev was all over but he kept it subtle and never reacted publicly. And, years later, as a commentator, he would reject ESPN-embossed shirts if they were loose by inches. For the legend, everything had to be classy, timely and, of course, picture perfect. SMG: A Biography of Sunil Manohar Gavaskar by Devendra Prabhudesai – a former colleague at his Professional Management Group (PMG) and currently the BCCI media manager – has a detailed account of the legend. But where are the inside stories: the dressing room fight with Kapil, calling Indians chokers, stoic silence during the match-fixing days. Loyal chroniclers have one problem: their loyalty shows.