June 4, 2000

England v Zimbabwe, Second Test, Day 4

Not until the penultimate day of this short series did Zimbabwe's batsmen put up a performance that they were thought to be capable of.

Having surrendered in both innings so meekly at Lord's, the tourists this time, led by a marvellous century by Murray Goodwin, lifted their game to put up a batting display which will ensure them a most honourable draw.

In the course of his brilliant innings of 148 not out, Goodwin was superbly assisted by Neil Johnson first and then the captain Andy Flower. Both partnerships yielded centuries. With England's bowling becoming wayward and appearing quite ordinary, with the possible exception of Darren Gough who claimed both the wickets that fell today, Zimbabwe must get the praise for taking advantage of it and dominating the play.

While Zimbabwe's batsmen were putting up their excellent show on yet another rain-affected day, one's attention was drawn to an article published in a Sunday newspaper today, on the on-going saga of bribery and match-fixing. This time the name of India's former captain, Sunil Gavaskar, has been mentioned.

While it has not been suggested that Gavaskar, who retired in 1987 as the scorer of the highest number of Test runs and with 34 Test centuries - more than anyone in history - took money from bookmakers personally; his wife's suspected undisclosed assets are being looked into by police in Mumbai.

It is felt that there is some cause for suspicion with certain alleged irregularities and this undoubtedly creates a smear on India'a legendary opening batsman.

One former Indian Test cricketer who played along side Gavaskar for a number of years, keeping-wicket and even opening the batting with him is Farokh Engineer, who is also well known as Lancashire's long-standing wicket-keeper.

CricInfo spoke today with Engineer who, apart from his cricketing-day connection, is also a close personal friend of Gavaskar: " As an old pro, it hurts me so much to hear all this. I do not believe that Gavaskar or Kapil Dev (whom Manoj Prabhakar has accused recently of offering money to throw matches) would lower themselves."

Engineer went on to say:" I am very surprised that this sort of thing is now coming out. I played with Sunil a lot and never thought of him being involved in anything improper. He is above all this. I would have known or had some idea if he was implicated in any way at all."

He added: " Cricket is a wonderful game and this sort of thing is ruining its name. I would stress that Gavaskar would never stoop so low. It would be a very sad day for Indian cricket if he or Kapil Dev were found to be implicated in any way."

While there is an abundance of such favourable comments about Gavaskar, it remains to be seen what the outcome will be of the investigations.