Sachin Tendulkar has termed playing under former India coach Anshuman Gaekwad as some of the “better years” of his cricketing career and that he was someone who could always be trusted.
Former cricketer Gaekwad was India coach for about two years — 1997 to 1999 — and some of Tendulkar’s best innings, including the two ODI centuries against Australia in Sharjah fondly remembered as the ‘Desert Storm’, came during his tenure.
“I was really fortunate to spend time with him (Gaekwad) when he was our coach. Possibly, I had better cricketing years of my life when he was our coach. We would have discussions on my batting and the approach I should have,” Tendulkar said during the launch of Gaekwad’s biography ‘Guts Amidst Bloodbath’ on Friday.
“Everyone has ups and downs in his career, but he was always there. Someone who was honest, very transparent and someone who one could trust. Whatever one could discuss (with him) stays confidential. That’s an important quality for a coach. We really got to know each other really well,” said Tendulkar, at the Brabourne Stadium here.
Former India pace bowler Zaheer Khan credited Gaekwad with resolving the issues of him running on to the crease.
“He was the coach when I had the first issue of running on to the crease. I was not able to control getting off the pitch in the follow-through and Aunshu bhai smartly handled it,” said Zaheer.
“In the nets in Chennai we had a couple of selection games. If that issue (had) persisted, I wouldn’t have been picked. He would come for practice sessions and subtly kept reminding me in Marathi about staying off the pitch, otherwise I would not be selected.
“I am amazed at how he found a way of communicating it to me without letting anyone else know and without putting me under pressure. That was something that stayed with me. He was my first coach with the Indian team in Kenya when I made my debut,” recalled Zaheer.
Former India coach Ravi Shastri said ‘guts’ was another word to describe the 70-year-old Gaekwad, who played 40 Tests between 1974-85.
“We played a lot of domestic cricket together, he was as hard as anyone you can get. He was tough, a fabulous reader of the game. His insights were very good… with what he did in the establishment. Guts is just another word for Aunshuman,” he added.
Gaekwad revealed a question he was asked as member of the Cricket Advisory Committee (CAC) regarding the appointment of Shastri as India coach a few years back.
“When I, Kapil (Dev), and Shantha Rangaswamy picked up Ravi Shastri as the coach of the Indian team, one of the press guys called me. ‘Is it true that each of you have been paid individually Rs 5 crores by the BCCI to pick Ravi Shastri?’” he revealed.
“I said, that is the answer. I may be getting all the various jobs with various hats in so many years, it could be one reason that I do not demand money. It is an honour to do a job and that was it,” Gaekwad recalled.
Giving an insight into his cricketing career, Gaekwad said he started his journey as a spinner who batted at No. 10 for Baroda, but within three years he had emerged as a top-order batter.
“In 1969, I played for Baroda in the Ranji Trophy as an off-spinner. For three years, I played as an off-spinner and bat at No. 10 for Baroda. In 1972, there was a turnaround when I became a batter. From the university (side), I got a promotion to No. 6 to No. 4, then No. 3… I keep telling youngsters, nothing is impossible. In three years, I became a batsman and played for India as a batsman in 1974,” he said.
“In 1969, I was nowhere on the scene but in five years, I was playing for India. Anything can happen. I thought it was a miracle. I was so scared of fast bowling in school, but once I played for India, I never missed a series against the West Indies. I missed a lot of other series, which were easier.”