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December 23, 2000

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'I am a man of dignity' -- Gavaskar

Faisal Shariff

While former BCCI boss Raj Singh Dungarpur was unleashing a torrent of criticism aimed at him, former Test great Sunil Gavaskar was lunching peacefully at The Pavilion, the restaurant within the Cricket Club of India complex.

Lunch over, Gavaskar then emerged to share his thoughts with the media. This is what he said:

In response to the allegation that it was not fair on his part to criticise the NCA while being a part of it: Sunil Gavaskar "Isn't criticism a part of a healthy democracy? In any case, what was it that I wrote? I wrote that it was not fair for the NCA to get a game against the visiting Zimbabwe team simply because it was affiliated to the Board, when there were plenty of other fringe players waiting for such a chance, and who lost out simply because they were not part of the academy. What is wrong in that?

"Besides, why do we have these double standards? In television interviews, Dungarpur has criticised the board, of which he is a part. So by the same logic, shouldn't he resign? I asked him that last night, and he said, 'Why should I resign?'"

In response to the charge that he had flung his letter of resignation in a disrespectful manner: "I am a man of dignity, and am not known to behave in that fashion. I read in the paper a comment from Dungarpur that 'The gentleman who made that statement should resign.' So I walked into that meeting, and said, 'I am that gentleman'. And I put the letter on the table, you could even say I tossed it there. To say I flung it, is a matter of how you portray something.

"You may be too young to remember, but in 1971, during a Test match, I collided with England fast bowler John Snow and lost my bat. Snow picked it up and handed it to me. But at the time, many papers wrote that Snow had flung the bat at me. It all depends on your point of view, or what you are trying to portray -- all I can say is, I have always behaved with dignity and decorum, both during my playing days and after it."

And with that, Sunny Gavaskar -- who as a rule does not air his thoughts and comments outside of his own column -- walked away.

Member of Parliament Kirti Azad, who was standing nearby listening to the former Test great, said as he watched Gavaskar walk away: "This is most unfortunate. When two such giant personalities collide, the fallout will hurt Indian cricket the most. And it is doubly unfortunate that this is happening now, when cricket is already reeling under the match-fixing scandal."

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