The stage at the Demontfort Hall came to life as it graced the presence of legendary English cricket fast bowler Jonathan Agnew and unforgettable Indian opening batsman Sunil Gavaskar, together for the first time in Leicester.
To a huge round of applause from the audience, Gavaskar, better known as ‘Sunny’, was welcomed on stage by fellow cricketer Agnew: “If Sachin Tendulkar is the ‘little master’, then Sunil Gavaskar is the Master of Indian cricket”.
Gavaskar set world records during his career for the most test runs and most test centuries scored by any batsman. Born and bought up in Mumbai, the cricket legend’s love for the sport began during his days at a Convent school, which encouraged students to play sports.
Jonathan Agnew had a successful career as a fast bowler for Leicestershire from 1979 to 1990, returning briefly in 1992. He took more than 650 wickets in first class cricket, and won three test caps for England as well as playing three One Day Internationals in the mid 1980’s. While still a player, he began a career in cricket journalism and commentary, becoming a leading voice of cricket on radio, as the BBC Radio cricket correspondent and as a commentator on Test Match
Commenting about having Sunil on stage with him, Jonathon Agnew said before the show “Sunil was feisty, all for his size, 5 foot 4, he was a feisty opening batsman, he took them on, I did get him out once, I’ll have to remind him of that, but we will get a good banter going.”
“Its an opportunity to, I hope, really meet Sunil, get to know him, get to know what makes him tick”
The interactive show full of laughter, gave audience members the opportunity to present their questions to be read out on stage. Photographic memories were projected on the screen, reflecting back to the highs and lows of Gavaskar’s career, as well as images of many famous and influential cricketers.
Speaking about his extraordinary incidents, Agnew prompted for more about the infamous walk off during the India vs. Australia match in February 1981. With a perfect blend of elegance and grace, Gavaskar explained: “I was captain of the India team and I was abused by the Australians and therefore walked off, it was one of the most regrettable things that’s happened to me.”
Feeling the pressure to achieve, Gavaskar shared: “The pressure was there, everyone would say we want your 29th, from the Airline crew to the hotel staff”. In 1983, success was evident during the Indian vs. West Indies game, as the video clip showed Gavaskar achieving his 29th test century against the West Indies. “It’s a standing ovation from all present here”, shared the commentator on screen.
Reflecting upon his career, he shared: “You have the best 15-20 years of your life, you make friends, visit countries and I think it is the best career anyone can have”. At the end of Gavaskar’s career in 1987, he presented Sachin Tendulkar with his leg guards, “Sachin started at the tender age of 14 playing amongst the best fast bowlers in the world”.
From serious topics to funny moments, the audience were entertained with an evening full of comedy and fond memories, as they were taken on a journey of Gavaskar’s cricketing career.
Event organiser Simon Fielder spoke about how it was working with Sunil Gavaskar “It’s a real thrill, I mean he’s great, he was one of my heroes growing up watching him play, I watched him play at the Oval and at Lords, so really really nice to meet him, lovely man, and some great stories and it was a really great evening, really enjoyable”