It was Gavaskar The real master Just like a wall We couldn't get Gavaskar at all, not at all You know the West Indies couldn't out Gavaskar at all.

LORD RELATOR penned a famous calypso as a tribute to India's successful team in the West Indies in 1971 and its outstanding batsman, Sunil Gavaskar.

Gavaskar, aged 21 and on Test debut, enjoyed a phenomenal series in which he compiled 774 runs, including four centuries at the incredible average of 154.80.

It was the start of a trend of heavy scoring in his duels with the West Indies.

After Ajit Wadekar's men came away with a 1-0 series triumph 31 years ago, Lord Relator, a Trinidadian, composed a calypso that still brings them memories whenever it hits the airwaves.

"Funnily enough, I had no idea that calypso had been written until 1974," Gavaskar admitted to SUNSPORT on Saturday.

Feared bowler

Andy Roberts, one of the feared West Indies fast bowlers who battled with Gavaskar, drew it to his attention when India were touring England where Roberts was representing Hampshire at the time.

"He had it on his tape and he made me listen to it," recalled Gavaskar, who is now a highly-respected television analyst and newspaper columnist.

"I love it. The lyrics are great. The tune is great. It's very catchy and very popular in India when it is played."

The calypso is likely to be remembered for years to come - not only because of Gavaskar's astonishing run in that series, but also because of his amazing consistency against the West Indies at a time when the Caribbean side boasted of menacing fast bowling attacks.

"Those days were obviously special. I've always enjoyed playing against the West Indies," he said. "They played their cricket hard and aggressive, but they also played in a gentlemanly manner - with none of the kind of abuse that goes on in cricket today."

In five series' against the West Indies, Gavaskar had to contend with Roberts, Michael Holding, Joel Garner, Malcolm Marshall, Wayne Daniel, Sylvester Clarke and that lot. Several good players were made to look ordinary against them, but Gavaskar was always a thorn in their side.

By the time he was finished, his record against the West Indies in 27 matches included an aggregate of 2 749 runs, an average of 65.45, and a tally of 13 centuries.

No one before or after him has had as many hundreds against the world champions of the late '70s and '80s. No one has as many as his 34 Test centuries and only Australian Allan Border, who played 31 matches more than Gavaskar's 125, has more than his 10 122 runs (ave. 51.12)

What, therefore, was the secret behind his success?

"I guess it was my height - seriously," said Gavaskar, who stands about 5ft, 5in.

"When I say that, a lot of people think I am saying it with my tongue in my cheek. The fact of the matter is that because the West Indians were quick, every time they banged the ball in short, it would go well over my head."

Tall batsmen

Taller batsmen, he said, would have been fending those deliveries off their faces.

"Being short was a real big plus as far as playing the West Indian quicks were concerned. They had to pitch the ball a lot further up to get the ball to bounce around my throat. Not every bowler can do that."

He describes the West Indies bowlers of that time as "challenging". Each was different in his own way, but he was always especially careful against Roberts and Marshall.

"These two had the ability - not that the others didn't - but these two had the special ability to bowl the unplayable ball even when you are past 150," he said.

And he passed that landmark against the West Indies on several occasions: 220 at Queen's Park Oval in 1971; 156 at the same venue in 1976; 205 in Bombay in the1978-79 series; 182 not out in Calcutta in the same series; 236 at Madras in 1983.

None of those, however, gave him as much satisfaction as his unbeaten 117 in a match-saving cause at Kensington in 1971 and his 124 in the next match at Queen's Park Oval when he made 220 in the second innings.

Last day

The effort in Barbados was made on the last day and it allowed India to manage a draw and go into the final Test with a 1-0 lead. In the final Test, Gavaskar made his first innings hundred with an unbearable toothache.

"I was under orders from the manager. I couldn't even take a pain-killing injection to relieve the pain," he remembered.

It might surprise many that he doesn't rank his 102 at the Queen's Park Oval in 1976 with the other two. This was a match in which India scored 406 in the last innings to win, but Gavaskar gave most of the credit to Gundappa Viswanath and Mohinder Amarnath.

Having triumphed against the awesome West Indies fast bowlers of the past, there are some who might feel Gavaskar can score 1 000 against modest West Indies attacks of the current era.

"I don't think so. The pressures are different," he said. "They are playing in front of lesser crowds in the stadia, but a much bigger audience on television. The pressures are there on the modern players and his West Indian attack is on a learning curve at the moment."

Gavaskar might have been on such a curve when he came to the Caribbean in 1971. Well, he certainly learned quickly. Ask Lord Relator.