The twelfth instalment in our new series where we compare two legendary cricketers from the same generation. Rather than necessarily settle the debate on who is ‘better’, this series attempts to illustrate who had a greater say in dictating his country’s cricketing fortunes. Along the way, you may also find a few facets of these players that are not necessarily discussed in conventional media.
This edition focuses on the two greatest batsmen India had produced before Tendulkar and Dravid.
Sunil Gavaskar vs Gundappa Viswanath
A batting comparison in Test cricket
|PARAMETER||Sunil Gavaskar||Gundappa Viswanath||Maximum or
|Number of Tests||125||91||Sachin Tendulkar (200)|
|Runs Scored||10,122||6,080||Sachin Tendulkar (15,921)|
|Batting Average||51.12||41.93||Don Bradman (99.94)|
|Batting average in wins and draws||59.30||51.07||Don Bradman (125.91)|
|Average runs per match||81||67||Don Bradman (135)|
|Percentage of team runs scored||18%||15%||Don Bradman (25.32%)|
|Impact at Home (min. 25 Tests)||42||59||Don Bradman|
|Impact Away (min. 15 Tests)||44||31||Don Bradman|
|Impact in Subcontinent (min. 15 Tests)||45||58||Cheteshwar Pujara|
|Impact against WI (min. 10 Tests; b/w ’70 and ’95)||97||70||Graham Gooch|
|Impact in Aus/SA (min. 8 Tests)||75||99||Don Bradman|
|Impact in Eng/NZ (min. 10 Tests)||54||43||Don Bradman|
|Failure Rate (min. 50 Tests)||36%||43%||Steven Smith (24%)|
||2 (once every 62 Tests)||3 (once every 30 Tests)||Inzamam-ul-Haq and
Rahul Dravid (8)
|Number of high impact performances||15 (once every 8 Tests)||10 (once every 9 Tests)||Ricky Ponting (32)|
|Most dominant period in career||December 1976 – September 1979||December 1978 – February 1982||n/a|
|Number of years as highest impact batsman||1 (1971)||1 (1981)||Arthur Shrewsbury Snr. – 3
(1885, 1886, 1893)
Jack Hobbs – 3
(1912, 1914, 1926)
Len Hutton – 3
(1938, 1950, 1954)
Garry Sobers – 3
(1958, 1959, 1966)
|Highest impact batsman in a match||23||13||Kumar Sangakkara
(29 times in 134 Tests)
|Highest impact batsman in a series||3 (in 31 Test series)||5 (in 21 Test series)||Kumar Sangakkara
(13 times in 56 Test series)
1) All parameters from ‘
Example: Don Bradman has the highest
2) From ‘Batting Average’ till ‘
While there is a massive difference in their aggregate runs and batting averages, Gundappa Viswanath is just marginally behind Sunil Gavaskar when it comes to
Gavaskar was the more prolific run-scorer. He was also more consistent than Viswanath. In fact, he remains the most consistent batsman in India’s Test cricket history (min. 50 Tests).
Viswanath scored tough runs (while wickets fell around him). In fact in India’s Test history no batsman (min. 50 Tests) has absorbed the pressure of falling wickets better than Viswanath. He also has a considerably higher impact in wins for India which means that his contributions had a larger say in India’s victories.
Viswanath also played a more defining role in series results – he has three series-defining (
It is interesting to compare how their careers ended. While Viswanath failed in 9 of the last 10 Tests he played, Gavaskar produced one of his finest knocks (96 in the second innings following his 21 in the first; the second highest impact batting performance of his career) in his last Test in Bangalore in 1987.
While Gundappa Viswanath is considered a great batsman and almost had the same impact as Sunil Gavaskar, he is still not placed in the same league as his brother-in-law. Gavaskar’s hallmarks were his propensity to score big runs coupled with phenomenal
consistency. Viswanath’s forte was his ability to score tough runs. He also had a bigger impact in match and series victories for India. Remarkable for a man considered by many to be the most stylish batsman India ever produced.
Illustrations: Vasim Maner