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Sunny versus Vishy: Who was better?

By Harish Kotian, Imran Shaikh and M D Riti
Last updated on: September 16, 2003 00:44 IST
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Sunny versus Vishy: Who was better?

When Sunil Gavaskar slammed sledging in his Colin Cowdrey Memorial Lecture at the Marylebone Cricket Club on July 29, old adversary Dennis Lillee hit back with a vengeance.

Gavaskar's speech had conveyed the impression -- wrongly, as he later clarified -- that he was targeting only the Aussies for bad on field behaviour. The former Australian fast bowler went straight for the Little Master, pointing out that his complaints were 'funny coming from someone who took his bat and went home when an umpire's decision went against him.'

Once a fast bowler, always a fast bowler. And so Lillee's next aimed at Gavaskar's throat when he remarked that the former India captain was not such a great batsman, and that the other Little Master, Sunny's brother-in-law Gundappa Vishwanath, was the best batsman to have played against Australia.

This missile failed to provoke Gavaskar, perhaps because what Lillee said only echoed what the great opener himself has said on many occasions.

But Lillee's comment gave new life to the old Gavaskar versus Vishwanath debate, a favourite with Indian cricket enthusiasts in the 1970s and 1980s.

Who, indeed, was the greater batsman of the two, and why? spoke to some former cricketing greats to find out:

G R VishwanathG R VISHWANATH: I think it is very wrong for anyone to compare me and Sunil now. How can I comment? I finished my career a long time ago. I see no need to be drawn into discussing it now or to have my performance compared to anyone else's. How can I say I am a better player than anyone else?


Eknath SolkarEKNATH SOLKAR: Sunil Gavaskar and G R Vishwanath were two different batsmen. One was an opener, the other played in the middle order. Naturally their techniques were different.

Gavaskar's technique was more solid. He had more concentration and was a very difficult batsman to beat.

Vishy was an aggressive batsman. When in touch he could destroy the best of bowling attacks. He was an elegant batsman who had a full range of shots like the square cut and the flick, and was very good to watch.

Both were very good batsmen. There cannot be any comparison between the two. On paper Gavaskar has scored more Test runs than Vishwanath. Otherwise, both were top-quality batsmen.


Chandrakant BordeCHANDU BORDE: Both Gundappa Viswanath and Sunil Gavaskar were very good players. Vishy was an artiste. The way he played the ball, there was an artistic touch to it. Sunny was an orthodox player who had a very strong defence and played with a straight bat.

Both were great players and it is difficult to point out who was better in terms of technique, determination, or focus.

Both had their own styles. Vishy could turn any ball from middle stump to the legside and square on the legside. It was a treat to watch him bat.

Gavaskar always offered a straight bat; it was very difficult to dismiss him.


Ajit WadekarAJIT WADEKAR: Vishwanath was a person to look at. He could produce all types of strokes. Sunil Gavaskar was like Bradman; he just went on with his business of accumulating runs for himself and the team.

Vishy was a charming batsman and would play shots that you will not find in the books. He was very good to watch when in full flow.

Gavaskar's concentration was very good; he just accumulated runs. Once he reached 50, he would try for a hundred. After reaching 100, he would try to get 150, and would just go on. If he had been born outside India, he would have been regarded as [highly as] Bradman. His batting was risk-free and he would only go for the loose balls.

A comparison cannot be drawn between the two as both were equally talented and both produced runs when needed most by the team. Their brilliant batting helped me win many Test matches. I am really thankful to both.


Dilip SardesaiDILIP SARDESAI: If I had been the captain and given the choice, I would have preferred Sunil Gavaskar. He was more solid and capable of playing a big innings.

Vishwanath looked better because of his strokeplay. But Gavaskar was more solid and scored more runs and that is what is required for Test cricket.

Vishwanath was capable of producing a brilliant innings, but Gavaskar was more consistent.


Dilip VengsarkarDILIP VENGSARKAR: Sunil Gavaskar and G R Vishwanath were equally good. It would be unfair to draw a comparison between them.

Gavaskar had great determination, his concentration was good. Vishy was a fine stroke-player, he was very wristy. He was an artiste. He played some brilliant strokes.


Javed MiandadJAVED MIANDAD: Both batsmen were very good and contributed a lot to their country.

As Vishy didn't play as much as compared to Sunny, there cannot be a head-to-head comparison between them.

I won't comment on Lillee's choice, but their records speak for themselves. He [Sunny] has achieved the big landmark of making 10,000 runs.


E A S PrasannaE A S PRASANNA: It may be Lillee's personal view that Vishwanath was better than Gavaskar. I myself have played with truly great players like [Vijay] Manjrekar, who I think was the best ever. I would say  Gavaskar and Vishwanath were like his right and left hands. Which one was the right and which was the left, it really does not matter. Both hands are equally important.



Between Sunil Gavaskar and Gundappa Vishwanath, who do you think was better? And why? Do tell us

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Harish Kotian, Imran Shaikh and M D Riti

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