Dhoni will inspire non-metro teams: Gavaskar

Winning the Rohinton Baria all-India University championship is Sunil Gavaskar's most memorable cricketing moments. Ahead of the Toyota University Cricket Championship starting in Mumbai on February 23, the original Little Master recollects the importance of University cricket in the Seventies and Eighties in an exclusive chat with NDTV. Excerpts:

Updated: February 20, 2013 17:43 IST
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Q: What does NDTV's initiative on promoting university cricket mean to you?

A: I think it's a very laudable idea because if you have a look at the cricketers that came from the Fifties to Eighties and even the Nineties, they came from the inter-school or inter-varsity arena. Inter university cricket was very competitive in those days and there were teams like Mumbai and Bangalore Universities that provided guys who went on to play for India in Test cricket.

Q: Do you think this initiative will be a crowd-puller?

A: Well, I think if you find some players who are very good at the university level, then i think the crowds will come in at the stadiums. But the problem is that there is so much international cricket available on television that it may not be possible to get the sell-out crowds that were there in the Sixties and Seventies. Remember, during the Sixties to Eighties, there was no cricket on TV and so the crowds would go to the grounds to the watch cricket and their favourite players. Now of course, there is a surfeit of cricket on television and even some big matches don't attract fans to the grounds.

Q: What are your memories of inter-university cricket?

A: Winning the Rohinton Baria Trophy was the biggest moment of my inter-varsity career. The final against Bangalore was a see-saw affair. It was played over four days and a thrilling one. The match was played on matting something which Mumbai were not really used to but we conquered the conditions to win the championship. So it remains etched in my memories.

Q: Will the Toyota University Cricket Championship provide career options to students? How was it during your days?

A: During our days many students wanted to graduate and go for higher studies. During our days, cricket was not a career option. I had two-three very talented cricketers who actually went on to become doctors. So, the game of cricket lost a few very talented cricketers. But now, cricket is a pretty good option career. I feel the UCC will bring a lot of cricketers to the attention of Ranji Trophy coaches and also to the notice of the IPL teams. A lot many good guys can really balance cricket with their studies.

Q: Do you think the inaugural edition of TUCC will be won by a team from the metros?

A: If you look at the composition of the Indian team, you will find many players come from the non-metros. Yes, there was a time when metros dominated but today, the captain of the Indian team (Mahendra Singh Dhoni) comes from Ranchi. It is an example to prove how much the game has spread. I wouldn't be surprised if the non-metro universities come forth with a player who will go to play for India one day.

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  • Cricket
  • Sunil Manohar Gavaskar

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