Gavaskar, not Tendulkar, the greatest: Former umpire Gothoskar

Gavaskar, not Tendulkar, the greatest: Former umpire Gothoskar PUNE: While standing in his debut Test as umpire in Kanpur in 1973, Madhav Gothoskar was challenged by the then English skipper Tony Lewis over a substitution rule. Without pausing for a second, he recited the rules to Lewis. The Englishman was convinced he didn’t have any scope to argue.
Gothoskar (92) recited the substitute rule again, without pausing for a second, while narrating the incident on Wednesday. His audience was convinced that Gothoskar was one of the best umpires the sport has seen.
The former international umpire had his listeners in awe while being felicitated by Cricketers’ Foundation here on Wednesday. Gothoskar received a cheque of Rs75,000. He has temporarily moved to Pune with his wife Leela, as his house in Mumbai has gone under redevelopment.
“There are 42 laws and over 300 bylaws of cricket. I had memorised them by heart. Knowing the rules of the game is the basic requirement for a cricket umpire,” he quipped.
In a career spanning 11 years, Gothoskar has seen 23 Test centuries by various batsmen. At 92, he doesn’t just remember the names of the batsmen who made those tons, he also has details ready to share.
Gavaskar, not Tendulkar, the greatest: Former umpire GothoskarGothoskar (left) with Cricketers Foundation’s Amit Gadgil
“Five of them were by (Sunil) Gavaskar. But my favourite will always be his 29th ton in Delhi,” he said.
“It is my favourite because of the way it was scored. I always found Sunil very strong in defence, but his innings was all about aggression that day. He was hitting Malcolm Marshall and (Michael) Holding all over the ground. With that knock, he also equalled Don Bradman’s 29 centuries,” Gothoskar told TOI.
Gothoskar, who officiated in 14 Tests and an ODI from 1972 to 1983, didn’t mince words when he was asked to pick one between Gavaskar and Sachin Tendulkar.
“Tendulkar, no doubt, was a great batsman, but Gavaskar was the greatest. The quality of fast bowlers that Gavaskar faced throughout his career, without a helmet, cannot be matched by any other player from any era,” he said.
On if umpiring had become easier because of the technology, Gothoskar shook his head in negative. “With everybody watching the game on live screens in the stadium and when you have television replays, the pressure is more on the umpires. You have the fear of getting exposed in front of so many people if you make a mistake,” he said, adding that Pakistan’s Aleem Dar was the best umpire of this era.
Having officiated in matches involving the West Indies and England greats like Clive Llyod, Viv Richardson, Marsh, Holding, Tony Grieg and Graham Gooch, Gothoskar said he never felt the pressure before taking any on-field call. “I never went to the field as a fan of any cricketer, be it Indian or anyone else. When you don’t have a favourite, it is easier to take tough calls,” he said.
About his choice of most gentleman cricketer, he said, “Gundappa Viswanath was a gentleman. Tony Lewis and Asif Iqbal were gentlemen, too. But not Zaheer Abbas.”


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