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How Sunil Gavaskar bounced back from a fearsome Malcolm Marshall blow

by Wisden Staff 2 minute read

Speaking on The Greatest Rivalry podcast, former India wicketkeeper Kiran More revealed how Sunil Gavaskar reacted after being struck a fearsome blow by a Malcolm Marshall bouncer during a Test at Guyana in 1983.

The incident occurred during the third Test of the series between the sides, with West Indies leading 1-0 having won the first Test by four wickets. Gavaskar had scored only 53 runs in four innings in the series, and though rain meant India’s first innings could only begin on day five, he would have been desperate for a score. He had made his way to 49 when Marshall struck, the ball rebounding a great distance after hitting the opener square on.

“I still remember one Test match in Guyana,” said More. “Sunil was batting, and [Malcolm] Marshall… [it was] one of the best fast bowling attacks that I’ve seen or played against by then in 1983. Garner, Michael Holding, Marshall, [Andy] Roberts, [Wayne] Daniel, Colin Croft, Winston Davis. I think Marshall was bowling in the Guyana Test match and the ball hit Sunil’s forehead. It went actually to mid-off or extra cover.”

More quickly ran from the dressing room to see if Gavaskar needed treatment, only to be shooed away, and, as a 20-year-old at the time, rated the moment an important learning experience.

“As a young cricketer I ran from the dressing room with the ice pack, got close to Sunil and said ‘Do you need the ice?’” he said. “And Sunil, he told me to bugger off, just get out! I was really scared, he told me to bugger off. End of the day’s play, he was [147] not out.

“You learn from those things, because he’s a senior player, playing for the country, playing in tough conditions against one of the best fast bowling attacks. How to survive there? Even if you get hit, you have to be a tough nut to crack and go on and score a hundred. You learn loads of things from that.

“That day I learned, ‘This is actually Test cricket. This is how to be tough. If you’re a really hardcore tough nut to crack, you can play Test cricket. You have to have that strong will and heart to play Test cricket. That’s the only way to survive in Test cricket, otherwise it’s going to be very difficult.’

“That’s what I learned in that West Indies series, the way Sunil survived and batted on that day, and most of the guys like Mohinder Amarnath, I still remember, he got [598] runs. You learn a lot from that. I can say that I was lucky that I was a young cricketer and I was his room partner.”

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