Mumbai: I was only 14 when Sunil Gavaskar became the first man to score 10,000 Test runs. I found it unbelievable and incredible.
But, there is nothing unbelievable about him being given BCCI's highest honour - the CK Nayudu Lifetime Achievement award - today. He richly deserves it.
I have been fortunate to have him as my sounding board all these years from Australia to Zimbabwe and every country in between.
It was on the 1990 tour of England, where I first spoke to him about batting. It was my first Test tour there and I sought him out to discuss English conditions and what to expect. Every now and again, I used to speak to him about whether he observed anything about my batting. So many times, several points go unnoticed and I generally bring it up in conversations with people like him and Ravi (Shastri). These critical conversations took place then and they continue now.
But I have been ‘associated' with him even before I started playing for India because Sunil Gavaskar was always cited as an example of discipline, determination and dedication. He gave commitment a great name and inspired a generation.
At home, everyone also admired GR Vishwanath and Sandeep Patil - Vishwanath for his wrist work and Sandeep Patil for his strokeplay. I watched some of Sandeep Patil's games, but could only watch videos of GR Vishwanath. These were names which were discussed at home alongwith Dilip Vengsarkar and Mohinder Amarnath.
There have been some memorable moments with Sunil Gavaskar. The one that sticks out is when he came down from his commentary position to greet me as I walked back to the dressing room after equalling his tally of 34 Test centuries in Dhaka, 2004.
I was pleasantly surprised to see him and I didn't know how to react. It was one terrific surprise for me.
Thanks for inspiring our generation.