It is a well-known fact that, during the 60s, 70s, 80s, and till mid-90s, the pitches used to offer a significant challenge to batters around the world. While the sub-continent tracks were spin-friendly, the surface in England, South Africa, New Zealand, Australia had so much assistance for fast bowlers.
While many batsmen tend to find difficulties adjusting to different conditions and pitches, some batters defied the odds and wrote numerous success stories. One of those supremely talented stroke makers was Indian legend Sunil Gavaskar, who made runs everywhere against the top-quality bowling attacks in the world.
The former India skipper became the first batsman on the planet to reach the 10,000-run benchmark in red-ball cricket. Gavaskar played at the grounds in Perth, Jamaica, Lords, Wellington and many more, which were largely considered as bowlers paradise.
But which pitch, according to the legend himself, was the toughest he batted on? Well, during a chat on Cricket Analyst Podcast, Gavaskar revealed that the hardest pitch he experienced was in Chennai. The Mumbaikar recalled a match against West Indies in 1978, saying he was taken aback by the track in Chennai as it was the fastest pitch he played on.
“The hardest pitch that I have played on was in Chennai in 1978 against the West Indies. It was the fastest pitch that I played on,” said Gavaskar.
The 71-year-old explained that he has played on the tracks at Sabina Park, Gabba and Sydney, but the surface in Chennai during that time was the hardest as the ball was just flying around.
“I’ve played at Sabina Park on a couple of occasions where the ball was flying. I’ve played at Perth. I’ve played at the Gabba where the ball was travelling. I’ve played on a rain-fresh pitch at Sydney when Jeff Thomson was really letting it rip. But that pitch in Chennai with Sylvester Clarke. The ball was just flying around. I think that’s the most difficult pitch I’ve batted on,” added Gavaskar.
Further in the chat, the ‘Little Master’ termed West Indies legend Garfield Sobers as the greatest all-rounder he saw in the fascinating game. Gavaskar played in the era where some of the finest all-rounders entertained the world. The likes of Sobers, Kapil Dev, Imran Khan, Ian Botham and others were simply outstanding. The former Mumbai cricketer reckoned that Sobers could change the game anytime and had a pretty larger impact on the sport.
“The greatest all-rounder that I saw was Sir Garfield Sobers because he was quite simply somebody who could change the game with the bat, with the ball and by taking an incredible catch close in or in the outfield. The impact that he had and the number of matches he turned with both bat and ball is the reason why he was the greatest all-rounder that I have ever seen,” Gavaskar added further.