Former India captain and popular commentator Sunil Gavaskar is covering a Ranji Trophy match for the first time for broadcast. While speaking to the media during the quarter-final match between Mumbai and Maharashtra, he shared his experiences of analysing an international game vis-à-vis a domestic match. He also spoke about sharing the commentary box with his son and former cricketer Rohan Gavaskar while doing so.
While lauding the coverage of the premier domestic tournament, the former India opener even chimed in on Mumbai’s batting challenges this season and a lot more.
Here are excerpts from Sunil Gavaskar’s media interaction:
On calling a Ranji Trophy match from the broadcast booth for the first time
In the commentary capacity, yes, this is my first Ranji Trophy match, but I have been to first-class matches after my retirement from cricket to watch – mainly in Mumbai, of course. I have been to Baroda often when Baroda or Bengal have been playing. But this is the first time I am doing commentary.
The difference really is that the buzz that international cricket like Test cricket or ODI cricket has – the buzz while coming to the ground, the crowd forming. There is a little sort of atmosphere, which is missing in a Ranji Trophy quarter-finals. Maybe, it will be there for the finals.
On the people who make broadcast possible
What we don’t (notice) often, I mean everyone around, is the hard work put in by the guys who bring the telecast on to your television screens. The cameramen, the technicians, the directors, the producers, the sound guys – they are the real stars of the telecast. The commentators just happen to be the face, and even as commentators, we would be nothing if not for the stats guys in the box with us. They are the ones who tell us all the little details, because in Tests and ODIs you have more information because you are in touch with it. But for Ranji Trophy matches, the stat guys are champions; they are the ones who give us the background like how the teams have qualified for the knockouts, who has done well, who is short of some runs or a few wickets for a landmark. They are the ones who provide us with the information. Without them, we would be completely stranded.
On sharing the commentary box with his son Rohan
For a change, I could actually pull someone’s legs and get away with it. Generally, when I am doing it at the international level, my fellow commentators can come back at me. Over here, that was the big plus that I could pull his legs and get away with it.
I started by saying that he has not been a part of the Ranji Trophy winning team. But thankfully, he didn’t come back at me saying he has scored more runs at Eden Gardens than I have.
On his tips to Rohan
That would be off the air because you don’t want to disturb someone when he is on air. But off the air, sometimes we do talk about little things, like the things I have learnt from Richie Benaud and by observing other commentators.
I haven’t heard much of him (Rohan) because of my travels, but the feedback that I get generally has been good. That is good to hear.
On the television coverage of Ranji Trophy
I think that is fantastic. If anything, the fact that the coverage of the game has been in various languages is one of the main reasons why we have the Indian team being captained by somebody from a non-metro. The game has spread so much that the guys from the non-metros, who otherwise perhaps would not have been in the forefront, have been able to get to the forefront because of what they have seen. I am pretty certain they have been, to some extent, inspired to take up the game by the media coverage that has taken the game to the interiors of India.
On his former team, Mumbai’s, batting, which has been struggling this season
Suddenly, when you are playing with Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane, and they are not there, it makes a big difference. Don’t forget Sachin Tendulkar also played the first game (this season). So to suddenly have three new guys coming in is not an easy thing. That is perhaps one of the reasons that Mumbai’s batting has been indifferent this season. But I guess, as the years go by and some of the guys establish themselves and have a permanent place in the side, their confidence will also grow. It is a transition period and transition periods are always invariably inconsistent.
On previous transition periods in Mumbai cricket
I think in the 1970s also when India was touring the West Indies – in those days India toured in January-February, so that would clash with the knockout stages – there were the times when four-five players would be away. So those were transition times as well.