Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott greeted his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi at the iconic Melbourne Cricket Ground on Tuesday. It was a moment of pride for legendary cricketers of both countries who were present here. Three champions of the sport - Sunil Gavaskar, Kapil Dev and VVS Laxman - were, in particular, honoured at having been invited and told NDTV that it was a fresh innings in relations between the two countries.
PM Modi's meeting with Abbott at the MCG was seen by Gavaskar as more of a sporting event rather than political. "It is great that the two Prime Ministers met here and it will go a long way in boosting not just trade and diplomatic ties but also sports," said the former India captain. "What we need is more sports in politics rather than more politics in sports," he added.
Kapil agreed with Gavaskar and said it was rare for cricketers to be part of a high-level diplomatic tour. "It is wonderful that two Prime Ministers meet and we, as cricketers, get to be part of it. It is very rare that any Prime Minister calls sports people," said the World Cup-winning captain.
While Kapil said that the bond between India and Australia will improve after PM Modi's visit, he felt the on-field intensity of cricket between the two nations will still be close. "We would like close ties with Australia but on the field, it is all about playing hard and fighting hard. We can go for drinks in the evening once the match is over," he said. India will start a long tour of Australia with a four-Test series starting in Brisbane from December 4.
Stylish batsmen VVS Laxman - known best for his gritty 281 against Australia at Eden Gardens - said that while being with legendary cricketers was an honour, watching two Prime Ministers in person was extra special. "I am honoured to be here with Indian and Australian cricket legends. But I am more honoured to be with two wonderful Prime Ministers," he said.