Considered to be one of the greatest batters in cricket, former India captain Sunil Gavaskar faced plenty of fast bowlers during his playing career. During his time, there were the likes of Michael Holding, Malcolm Marshall, Dennis Lillee, Jeff Thomson and many more. So, when the 72-year-old was asked about the “quickest bowler” he had ever faced, Gavaskar named Thomson and also shared a funny anecdote from a Test match between India and Australia in Sydney. The 1983 Cricket World Cup winner also revealed how an altercation with India opener Chetan Chauhan fired up Thomson and he ended up bowling “the fastest spell” Gavaskar had ever faced.
“The quickest was Jeff Thompson and we dismissed Australia for batting first at Sydney. Australia had won the toss and we dismissed them for something like a 140 or thereabouts and you know what happens when toss is won by the captain, the fast bowlers are only in their track suit for the whole day”, said Gavaskar on SuperSport.
“They are not supposed to be in their whites but here Thommo was in his whites even before Tea and it had just started to drizzle where the umpires don’t take you off the field but it just freshens up the pitch.”
Opening up about Thomson’s altercation with his teammate, Gavaskar revealed that the pacer misunderstood a funny banter between the Indian cricketers and ended up bowling an “unbelievable spell”.
“Man he was something. He was not happy about bowling at that stage. Then what had happened was my opening partner Chetan Chauhan used to play this slash, that used to send the ball racing. And the team was teasing him about it. So he played that shot off Tommo and it went off the top edge, one bounce into the boundary for four”, he said.
“In Sydney, the visitors’ change room is closer to the action than the home team’s change room so when that boundary was hit, everyone got up and shouted master. We all could hear it. Chetan, recognizing that these guys are making fun, started to shake his head and laugh. But as he laughed, he made eye contact with Thommo in his follow through.
“Thommo thought that he was laughing at him. So he went across and marked a cross on Chetan’s helmet. He said, I am going to hit you there and then see if you laugh. Chetan said you do what you want. And I from the non-striker’s end was trying to tell him, ‘Chetan, leave it.’ I am speaking to him in Marathi and he tells me, ‘I am a Rajput. I don’t take a backward step’. And after that, he was bowling like the wind. Everything was flying around there. Unbelievable. That was the fastest spell I have faced.”
Thomson is considered by many to be one of the fastest bowlers in the history of the game. He and Lillee formed a lethal partnership for Australia which terrorized opposition batting line-ups. In 51 Test matches for Australia, Thomson registered 200 wickets which included 16 four-wicket hauls and eight five-wicket hauls.
Also in 50 ODI games, he took 55 wickets along with a four-wicket haul.
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