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SportCricketWhen cricketers turn ambassadors of the game

When cricketers turn ambassadors of the game

Published: 4th Dec 2021 9:58 pm

Hyderabad: Legendary opener Sunil Gavaskar’s timely advice was instrumental in reviving out-of-form Mayank Agarwal’s career in Test cricket. The Indian opener stole the show with a gritty century in the second Test against New Zealand in Mumbai. Observing Agarwal’s faults in his technique, Gavaskar stepped in and his useful conversation in Kanpur helped the Karnataka opener to change his methods in the Mumbai Test.

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In fact, Gavaskar clarified during his commentary that Agarwal didn’t seek his counsel but he imposed on him. “Look, I care for Indian cricket. He was walking past me and was staying in the same hotel, so I told him maybe you should try something. I don’t know whether he is trying it. It looks like he is. But look, at the end of the day, it’s about how strong you are mentally and he has shown he is very strong mentally,” Gavaskar said.

The legendary opener appreciated Agarwal for showing patience in the start of the innings and later shifting gears when spinner Will Somerville and Ajaz Patel came on. “The discipline he has shown at the beginning of a five-day game – not everybody can be a Virender Sehwag, who can get away to a flying start – but at the start of the innings, the discipline around the off-stump is so important. Not looking to play across the line and then get out LBW to an incoming delivery. So that is what he has shown. He played straight and later on when the spinners came in, he took calculated risks going inside out. Brilliantly executed shots,” pointed out Gavaskar.

In the past, Gavaskar did give his advice to batters, who were struggling with form. Late Martin Crowe too acknowledged seeking Gavaskar’s advice during one of the West Indies tours. The retired cricketers have often been ambassadors of the game. Mohammed Azharuddin, who benefitted from the advice given by Zaheer Abbas, late ML Jaisimha and Keith Stackpole when he was in poor form. The wristy Hyderabadi said Stackpole and Zaheer Abbas were true ambassadors of the game.

During India’s tour of Australia in 1992-93 Stackpole volunteered to help Azhar. “I was struggling for form and that is when Stackpole sent a word through Harsha (Bhogle) whether he could meet me 30 minutes before the practice session in Melbourne.

“He came with 50 or 60 balls (old and new ones). He threw the balls at him at a good pace for 30 minutes. He said that since I was a very good player and he couldn’t see me struggling to play the ball. It was very nice of him and he just told me to bat positively. He said it happens to every cricketer when you get out to brilliant catches. I owe my Adelaide Test 100 to Stackpole as I could bat freely,” he said.

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