Denied a paternity leave by BCCI ? Sunil Gavaskar says ‘he was committed to playing for India’, never asked for leave in 1975/76

Ever since India skipper Virat Kohli was granted a paternity leave, the subject has become a hot topic of discussion – to some extent, the issue has even overshadowed the ongoing series between Australia and India.

Earlier in November, the BCCI had allowed Kohli to return home after the first Test for the birth of his first child with actress wife Anushka Sharma.

Several former cricketers have thrown light on the subject. India’s 1983 World Cup winning captain Kapil Dev had said that now the time’s have changed as during his playing days, they couldn’t ‘afford’ to go back midway through the series.

Following the approval of Kohli’s request, several reports started doing the rounds about how in Sunil Gavaskar’s case way back in 1975/76, the BCCI had ‘denied’  his ‘request’ for a leave.

Gavaskar has now offered some clarity on the topic, saying that he never asked for a paternity leave in the first place.

In his column for Mid-day, Gavaskar wrote: “While this is correct, the circumstances of that request were not quite made clear and so, here is an attempt to put the record straight.”

Gavaskar said that he knew that his child will be born while he was away and that even his wife backed him since he was so committed for playing for India.

“Firstly, I did not ask permission to return to be by my wife’s side for the birth. When I left with the Indian team for the (1975-76) twin tour of New Zealand and the West Indies, I was aware that the baby would come while I was away. I was committed to playing for India and my wife backed me to the hilt,” revealed Gavaskar.

In the third Test against New Zealand, Gavaskar got injured and was recommended a four week rest. With the next game in the West Indies set to begin after three weeks, the injured Gavaskar asked manager Polly Umrigar if he could go back (to India) and join the team in West Indies – much before the first Test.

“The doctors advised a four-week break from the game for recovery. The next Test match was in the West Indies in about three weeks and since I wasn’t going to be able to play in the interim, I asked our manager, the legendary Polly Umrigar, if I could go back at my own expense for a few days and rejoin the team in the West Indies well ahead of the First Test. So there was no question of me missing a Test match other than for injury. In fact, I played the first Test despite the doctor having advised another week’s rest,” Gavaskar added.

As proof of his exemplary dedication to his side’s cause, Gavaskar even played the first Test – without completing the full four week recovery period.

While Kohli’s paternity leave has caused a contentious debate, there’s no doubt that India will desperately miss him during the four match Test series.

 Former Australian skipper Michael Clarke had even said that Kohli needs to set the tone before he leaves and if India don’t do well in the limited overs series, then they will be smoked 4-0 in the Tests.

The signs already look ominous for India as they have already lost the three match ODI series with the final dead rubber set to be played on Wednesday (December 2).

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