✪ The 50th anniversary of Sunil Gavakar’s Test debut celebrated at Shyam Bhatia museum

K R Nayar

Senior cricket writer & analyst

Legendary batsman and former Indian captain Sunil Gavakar’s 50thanniversary of his Test debut was celebrated at the Shyam Bhatia museum in front of Indiaspora Global Connect delegates from US, UK and Canada. It turned out to be a special evening where Gavaskar stressed on the importance of the need to appreciate fans and cricket lovers of the game

Shyam Bhatia presents a memento to Sunil Gavaskar

Shyam Bhatia, the UAE-based cricket aficionado, has always tried to honour legends of the game on their landmark achievements. Sunil Gavaskar had made his Test debut on March 6, 1971, and Bhatia wanted to celebrate its 50thanniversary at his museum. Since Gavaskar has been busy with his broadcast commitments and was in the bubble during the last few months, Bhatia was looking for an appropriate time to make sure that the Sunny, as he affectionately addresses him given their nearly five decades old friendship, is honoured and presented a memento.

The memento bat with Sunil Gavaskar’s feats

There was nothing special about December 15, 2021. But Bhatia made it special by creating a special moment in the history of this museum. He invited the Indiaspora Global Connect delegation, a non-profit global Indian diaspora who are touring the UAE, to his museum. The members who came from USA, Canada and UK were given a tour of the museum and told that there was a surprise waiting for them. After showing the delegates many mementos from Gavaskar, Bhatia announced that the legend would be present in real and will be honoured in front of them. None could believe their eyes when Gavaskar walked in and greeted each one of them.

Sunil Gavaskar signs the poster welcoming him to the occasion

Gavaskar gave a patient hearing to almost everyone who went up to him and discussed some of his great knocks that they had enjoyed. Addressing the gathering, Bhatia said that the idea for his museum was mooted by Gavaskar himself and he feels happy that he could honour him here. In his speech Gavaskar stated how important it was to appreciate fans and cricket lovers. “For us cricketers, sometimes we take fans and cricket lovers for granted. We don’t often understand the effort they put in to stay in touch with the game because of the game they love. This (museum) is mind blowing. He says that I gave him the idea or B,C or D gave him ideas… but at the end of the day the effort has to be what Shyam has put in. You can see the love and affection with which he has built this..which is amazing. This is like his baby.”

The Sunil Gavaskar autographed poster which will be part of the museum

Gavasakar then elaborated on his relationship with Bhatia. “Shyam is an example of somebody who wanted to play cricket but wasn’t able to make a career of it. Cricket, during the time we were growing up, wasn’t a career option. It has become a career option only in the last 15 years or so. Now it is a good thing having cricket as a career option. I have a couple of doctor friends, who, if they had carried on playing, could have actually played at the highest level; but cricket wasn’t a career option then. So cricket’s loss has actually been medicine’s gain. Then that is how life is ….”

Shyam Bhatia presents his book ‘Portraits of the Game’ to MR Rangaswami of Indiaspora

Bhatia presented Gavaskar with a memento, requested him to sign the poster made for the occasion and cut a cake. “I am just absolutely floored by Shyam’s gesture of having this for me and this memento he has created for me. This is absolutely fantastic and the hard work that Shyam puts in is unbelievable.”
Talking about Shyam’s constant pursuit of enlarging his museum’s collection, Gavaskar said, “Wherever he (Shyam) goes, he is only thinking in terms of how to add more to the museum, and how to make the museum a little more colourful. He is always thinking about how people who walk in to the museum will be able to get a sense of what cricket was in the black and white days compared to the techni colour days. So, thank you Shyam for all the efforts you put in. We are fortunate to have a cricket lover like him and may you keep loving the game.”

Sunil Gavaskar and Shyam Bhatia with Gopal Jasapara, curator of the museum

Shyam then presented his book ‘Portraits of the Game’ to MR Rangaswami, who founded Indiaspora, a nonprofit community of powerful global Indian leaders from diverse backgrounds and professions who are committed to inspiring the diaspora to be a force for good by providing a platform to collaborate, engage, and catalyze social change.

The occasion celebrated with Sunil Gavaskar cutting a cake

Gavaskar also signed a caricature of him presented by Gopal Jasapara, the curator of this museum. He also wrote on the poster welcoming him to the museum for this special occasion: “What a delight to be at the museum again. God bless you Shyam.”

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