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She then resumes her conversation on the phone, about the 10th identical call since the morning. Celebrity: "Among the problems of being the wife of a celebrity are answering innumerable telephone calls from friends, well-wishers and fans", says Marshneil wearily. Gavaskar, emerging from his bedroom, displays no such irritation. Smiling, unflappable and friendly, he goes to the door, picks up his four-year-old fan, and, in place of the requested handshake, plants a kiss on the child's cheek. Seeing this, a gang of urchins peering in through the living room windows, raise a ragged cheer.

Their hero has not let them down. Throughout the incessant telephone calls, the constant stream of visitors, journalists and autograph-hunters, Gavaskar retains his characteristic cool. After all, it is his stoic patience that has made him the cricketing prodigy he is. He is currently a few strokes away from the magic 5,run milestone in test cricket with an incredible 20 centuries under his belt. Last fortnight, Indian cricket's mandarins acknowledged his worth by reinstating him as captain of the Indian Test team for the series against the Aussies.

He was dropped after captaining the side against the West Indies earlier this year, but is back in favour after his blockbuster batting in the English tour. And yet, Gavaskar is perhaps the only sports superstar in India who has genuinely disallowed success from going to his head. Two days after his return from a gruelling tour of England.

Gavaskar insisted on playing a Kanga League cricket match for his old club -Dadar Union. Fan Mail: It is precisely that attitude that has triggered off the tonnes of fan mail that pour in through his letter-box each day.

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Enough to make even Amitabh Bachchan blush with embarrassment. Gavaskar estimates that there are about letters currently lying unopened - "I just don't have the physical ability to cope with all those letters," he complains good-naturedly. Unlike other stars of his stature, Gavaskar is anything but a social animal. His idea of a pleasant evening is staying at home and horsing around with son Rohan, which, inevitably involves playing cricket.

Rohan fancies himself a pace bowler and only answers when you call him "Thomson". The minute dad gets home, Rohan hands him a bat, wipes imaginary sweat off his brow, polishes the ball on his shorts and hurls down a left-handed delivery across the length of the spacious drawing room. Each time he beats Gavaskar's bat, a yell of "Howzatt" resounds through the apartment. When his turn at the crease comes, Rohan rehearses a few strokes with his miniature Duncan-Fearnley bat made specially for him by the world-famous company.

His batting talent is attested to by the fact that so far he has broken precisely one serving tray in the course of his "matches" with his father. But with all that cricket around him, Rohan has little time for anything else.

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Gavaskar readily admits that Rohan is a precocious child. They are responsible for his discipline. When I come home, my job is to play cricket with him, and spoil him. Marshneil, the Kanpur girl whom Gavaskar married exactly five years ago, has obviously learned to live with the hassles of being a star's spouse. She religiously files newspaper cuttings and photographs and helps Gavaskar out in answering his fan mail.

Most times, she accompanies Gavaskar on his cricketing sojourns. But hastily amending her statement she said: "There is one thing we disagree on - his over-generosity. Dedicated: But beneath that affable exterior, is a man deeply dedicated to the game. As secretary of the Players' Association, Gavaskar has made every effort to get his fellow-cricketers a square deal, financially and otherwise.

It was largely due to his efforts that advertisers can no longer reproduce pictures of test stars on score cards without paying out royalty. He has also played a major role in boosting the benevolent fund for cricketers started comparatively recently.


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Criticism: Financial rewards aside, Gavaskar's unique colossus-like position in Indian Test cricket also makes him an ideal target for criticism. There are those who say that because of his status in the team, Gavaskar dictates his own terms to the Board. The more unkind rumours are that he took on the captaincy against the West Indies because he was sure of an Indian victory.


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  8. He then dropped out of the captaincy stakes in the England series because of the likelihood of a sound thrashing at the hands of Brearley and Co. And now that the Aussies are the underdogs in the current series, he has taken on the mantle once again. He was roundly condemned for his tough stand in favour of Indian cricketers signing up with Packer's All Stars.

    Neither has his recent appointment as Indian captain been unanimously acclaimed. Sunil as a captain was not particularly impressive. Gavaskar himself views his appointment as captain objectively. But when I had to fall back on the defensive and play a containing role, I didn't enjoy the situation. I suppose I have to learn that end of it".

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    Controversial: In fact, it was probably Gavaskar's controversial statement to a Sportsweek j ournalist that he had not enjoyed being captain against the West Indies, that influenced the selectors' decision to drop him from captaincy against the English side. Gavaskar, however, claims that it was a flippant off-hand remark that was blown up out of context.

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    Even former Indian captain, Ajit Wadekar, says that Gavaskar "looked a little out of sorts when the West Indies were batting well in the last series. I would caution him against letting things drift on the field". Trapped: But Gavaskar is also in the unique position of being financially and professionally secure. Gundappa Vishwanath, Gavaskar's brother-in-law, is perhaps another. The rest of their teammates are trapped in the flux that Indian cricket is currently in. The old workhorses like Bedi, Chandrashekhar and Venkat himself are on the verge of being put out to grass, while replacements are being tried out.

    Further, a situation like the current one where 17 test matches are due to be played over less than six months is fairly unusual. And deprived of test match earnings, Indian cricketers are financially insolvent.

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    The highest payment for a first-class cricketer, apart from the tests, is Rs 50 a day for a Ranji Trophy match. And, it is largely thanks to Packer that cricket bounties have reached the current level. What adds to the irony is the amount of money there really is in the game. In a cricket-happy country like India, the takings from even a non-test match are something phenomenal, far outpacing any other sport in the country. The men who hold the key to India's cricket vaults are the members of the Cricket Control Board of India. Cricket matches are also the only sporting events that are insured.

    The three-day Hyderabad match was insured against rain and riots for Rs , by the Association, which paid a premium of Rs 10, Good Business: For actual tests, the takings would be the envy of a Tata or a Birla.

    There are currently six test centres - with varying capacities - Bombay 45, , Delhi 35, , Calcutta 80, , Madras Apart from the guarantee money paid to the cricket Board by the zonal associations the average is Rs 5 lakh, or Rs 35 lakh for the series , players' fees, travelling and boarding expenses for both teams will total around Rs 18 lakh. The rest is pure profit. The series returns in January with sets by artists from Broadway and beyond. Author John Robert Allman will also be present to discuss a celebration of women on Broadway. The Wicked alum will sing covers from his favorite musicals and perform his original music.

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    Concert October Tony Winner Stephanie J. The October 21 performance benefited the Covenant House Foundation. The staging reflects the Broadway version of the musical, which features a new book and additional songs.


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