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I learnt a lot from Umrigar: Gavaskar

November 08, 2006 16:40 IST

Cricket legend Sunil Gavaskar, who broke quite a few national records set by Polly Umrigar during his illustrious career, paid glowing tributes to the departed soul, saying he learnt a lot of lessons in the game from him.

"I have learnt so much from him that I can't pinpoint one particular thing. He once told me that I try and take my first run too early. He told me to take at least the first few runs safely," Gavaskar said on Wednesday, after paying his last respects to the cricketer at the Parsi Tower of Silence.

The last rites of Umrigar, who died on Tuesday at home in 'Sports Field', in Worli, Mumbai, where Gavaskar also resides, were held on Wednesday afternoon.

Gavaskar said though Umrigar achieved so much in cricket he never once spoke about his feats.

"The only time he spoke about his cricket was when discussing strategies on how to get people out. Even that was a great learning experience," said the man who was the first to score 10,000 Test runs.

Dilip Sardesai, another Mumbai stalwart who was with Umrigar in his last Test series in the West Indies, said cricketers from the 36-time Ranji Trophy champions were indebted to the "Palm tree hitter" for their cricket lessons.

"Whatever we have achieved in Mumbai cricket is because of Polly. His ability to speak to young cricketers and improve their knowledge was outstanding," said the former middle order batsman and one of the heroes of the 1971 Test series triumph in the West Indies.

Umrigar's ex-India colleague and neighbour Bapu Nadkarni said he would miss his long-time friend.

"We played together and were friends and neighbours. It's going to be very difficult to continue (to live) without him," said the former Test left-arm spinner, known for his economy and accuracy, which helped him reel maiden overs on the trot.

Among those who paid their last respects from the non-Parsi cricket community were former Board of Control for Cricket in India chief and current Cricket Club of India president Raj Singh Dungarpur, ex-Test cricketers Madhav Apte and Raju Kulkarni, former Mumbai captain Milind Rege, the members of the managing committee of the Mumbai Cricket Association and BCCI's Chief Administrative Officer Ratnakar Shetty.

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