Batting legend Sunil Gavaskar still does not know why he was removed as captain despite winning a home Test series against the West Indies in 1978-79 where he also scored over 700 runs. The BCCI replaced him with S. Venkataraghavan as captain of the team. India had won the six-match Test series 1-0.
“I was replaced as captain despite India winning the series against the West Indies (1978-79) and in which I got more than 700 runs. I still don’t know the reason for it, but can only surmise that it was because I had been pretty open about the offer to join Kerry Packer’s World Series Cricket. However, I signed the BCCI contract before the selection, thereby proving where my loyalties lay,” Gavaskar wrote in his column for Mid-Day.
Gavaskar also said he had to convince selectors to keep spin great Bishan Singh Bedi in the side.
“The committee decided to drop Mr B.S. Bedi after three Test matches. In fact, they wanted to drop him straightaway after I replaced him as skipper after the series loss in Pakistan. I argued that he was still the best left-arm spinner in the country and so they reluctantly agreed to pick him for the first Test,” Gavaskar said.
“Kapil Dev had just come on the scene then and along with Karsan Ghavri had formed a potent new ball pair for India. The spinners therefore didn’t get the kind of spells they were used to. The pitches were absolute beauties to bat on with little help for the spinners. The selectors wanted to leave out Bedi for the second and third Test too, but I managed to convince them not to.”
Gavaskar also said he wanted Padmakar Shivalkar and Rajinder Goel, who passed away recently, in the side but could not have his way with the selectors after he was reappointed as India captain for the 1979-80 home series against Australia and Pakistan.
“Kindly remember the India captain is co-opted to the selection committee but has no vote,” he said.
“However, after the conclusion of the third Test and anticipating that the Chennai pitch was going to be one with more bounce, the selectors went for Dhiraj Parsana, who like Ghavri could bowl both seam and spin. This is where I couldn’t convince the committee to pick either Goel Saab or Shivalkar.”