September 19, 2003

'I'm proud of my last name' - Rohan Gavaskar

Rohan Gavaskar is the person everyone loves to hate at the moment. His selection in the Rest of India squad for the Zal Irani Cup caused even the most mild-mannered scribes to go ballistic. After all, he averages much less than some other batsmen who now have to be content with watching the action from the stands. Tales about his bad behaviour on the field abound. When you speak to him, though, you'd be forgiven for thinking butter wouldn't melt in his mouth.

What is it like to be in the dressing room with the cream of Indian cricket?
It's fantastic to be here because it is a carry-over from the Challenger series. It's great just to be a part of the dressing-room with all these guys. You pick up a lot of small things just talking cricket.

But the experience can't possibly make up for the fact you're not in the playing XI...
Obviously it is very disappointing not to be part of the XI. But you have to shrug off your disappointment and do the job at hand. Sometimes you have to field for a few overs when someone's injured, and you try to do that as well as you can.

And you might have some good advice for your team. After all, some of the opponents in the Mumbai team are your close friends...
These guys are my close friends off the field, but none of that matters on the field. I would always go up to the captain and offer my suggestions if the opportunity came up. But then Sourav (Ganguly) has been the captain of the Indian team for so long now, what am I going to tell him?

There's been a huge furore about your selection. What do you have to say about that?
I haven't selected myself, so what can I tell you? The selectors obviously thought I was good enough and they've picked me. I've nothing to say about the furore that's been caused. It's got nothing to do with me, to be honest.

Has the Gavaskar surname actually been a negative thing for you? More disadvantages than advantages, perhaps?
My father worked very hard to earn the name he has got. I'll never consider it a disadvantage or something that puts pressure on me. I'm very proud of the last name I have. I wake up every morning feeling proud of what he's done and what he's achieved.

How often do you speak to your father about cricket?
I speak to my dad quite often. Whenever I have a problem with my game I speak to him. If I have a technical problem, or am getting out in similar fashion more often than I should, then I discuss it with him. We try to analyse what mistakes I'm making and try to sort things out.

Do you sometimes think it might have been a bad idea to take to cricket?
No, it's fantastic. I play the game because I love the game. It's given me a great deal. I've made so many close friends in the game. Ajit Agarkar and Kiran Powar are practically family now. I wouldn't have known a lot of these people if not for cricket, and that would have been a tragedy. The game's given me a lot of happy memories and some sad ones, but the happy ones definitely outlast the unhappiness.

You did get some time out in the middle today, with a lot of players needing breaks because of the heat and humidity...
I started the day on the field and ended the day on the field, but really, that's no solace.