Sunil Gavaskar is without doubt a cricketing legend who mane will carve a permanent niche amongst the greats of the game of cricket.There cant be a slightest doubt that he was one of the greatest batsmen of all time and amongst the 3-4 best opening batsmen of all time .Sunil Gavaskar was the ultimate epitome of concentration out there in the middle,resembling a monk meditating.He blended the grammar of an Oxford University English professor with the courage or determination of a great military general ,tenacity of a boulder,organization of an architect and the concentration of a Buddhist monk meditating.If one wanted to bet on batsmen to score a hundred I would have backed Sunil more than anyone .Gavaskar's batting was revelation in the most precarious conditions displaying tenacity or relentlessnes at an intensity unsurpassed.Watching him at his best was a soul searching experience.Here I wish to asess where he stood amongst the great batsmen,opening batsmen and cricketers.This yaer he completed 70 yaers on July 10th so I am wishing him a birthday tribute a bit late. No batsmen set more records than Gavaskar in the 1970-s -80's era when fast bowling standard was at its best or most lethal and suitable headgear was not available.Unlike later greats like Lara ,Tendulkar,Ponting ,Kolhli and Smith Gavaskar did not wear a helmet or any adequate protective equipment.No batsmen in his day scored 100 or more runs in a calendar as many times scored a century in both innings of a game 3 times reached 20 centuries in such fast time and overall scored as many runs and centuries.He was the most prolific test batsmen of the 1970's scoring 5647 run sat 55.71.No batsmen scored as much in a debut series as Gavaskar in West Indies in 1970-71.No great batsmen faced as many great fast bowlers like Lillee,Roberts,Holding,Garner,Marshall,Thomson ,Botham, Hadlee and Imran.For sheer technical skill only Barry Richards perhaps surpassed him in his day.,with his strokes resembling a perfect chapter in a coaching manual for a school boy.Above all he bore the brunt single-handedly of a relatively weak team unlike the other greats of his age. What went against Gavaskar was arguably his strike or scoring rate as often he occupied the crease for too long a time which may have cost a game from having a result. Classic examples are his 172 in 708 mins in Bangalore v England in 1981-82 .He did not win many tests averaging around 43 in games won which was 6 less than brother-in law Gundappa Vishwanath.He was also considerably overshadowed as a match-winner by Viv Richards and Greg Chappell.In later period sthe likes of Tendulkar,Lara ,Dravid ,Sehwag and Ponting and now Kolhi had much better statistics in games won.Gavaskar also benefited from not playing in the Kerry Packer WSC supertsets and facing the depleted West Indian and Australian attacks between 1977-79.Sunny scored 3 centuries in 1977-78 in Australia with Thomson but without Lille and with a 2nd string team and scored 4 c centuries at 91.50 facing a 2nd string West Indies pace attack without the services of Roberts,Holding and Garner.He also scored 2 versus a 2nd string Australian team at home.That amounts to 10 centuries averaging around 70 overall.Facing full strength attacks I doubt he would have been as prolific in those games ,even if he averaged around 50. 8 of Gavaskar's 13 centuries against West Indies came against the lesser attacks and not the best of West Indies pacemen against whom he averaged 43,as compare to overall average of 65 against that country.Unlike Viv Richards Gavaskar was never succesful against Dennis Lillee ,like in 1980-81.Often Gavaskar got into trouble on wickets of uneven bounce ,particularly in the 1st innings in the view of Roberts and Imran and Lillee did not rank him so highly.Unlike Graham Gooch Gavaskar did not score a century at Kingston or Barbados against the great pace quartet which were the fastest tracks in West Indies or was at his best against the great Carribean quartet on their soil.Even Greg Chappel overshadowed Gavaskar against top Calypso pace as well as Mohinder Amarnath in 1983.He wa salso not as artistic ot stylish as brother-in-law Gundappa Vishwanath or as elegant as Greg Chappell or Zaheer Abbas or as entertaining as Viv Richards or Gordon Greenidge. Thus weighing the pros and cons where did the little master rank?It must be stated that Sunny played in an era where there were far less results with scoring rate relatively lower than from the 1990's.Gavaskar also had to single-handedly bear the brunt of India's bating with only Vishwanath able to support him in the middle before the 1980's.Unlike Viv Richards and Greg Chappell Gavaskar not only hardly got support from any batsmen bar Vishwanath ,but played for a team with a very weak bowling attack..who could not thus complement his batting.A great Gavaskar knock may have been the architect of many a great win with ample support like Viv or Greg got,or Barry Richards in his playing days.Gavaskar saved more tests than any opening batsmen in history particularly facing Imran,Botham,Marshall etc and also won important tests facing the likes of Imran and Holding.Morally his epic 221 won India the 1979 Oval test in what would have been a record 4th innings chase .Similarly his 156 at Trinidad in the 2nd test in 1975-76 morally won India the game.His 102 at Trinidad played a major role in India acheiving the then highest 4th innings total to win a test of 406 runs.His 166 at Madras against Pakistan laid the foundation for India to win the test and win its 1st series versus Pakistan for 28 years.In 1985-86 Gavaskar averaged more than any overseas batsmen on any test tour in his time averaging around 100 with 2 big centuries.No batsmen was more prolific facing Imran.From mid 1980's Gavaskar started to bat agressively and scored some classics in fast scoring like his 121 at Delhi and 90 at Ahmedabad.At Madras facing West Indies pace attack he scored an unbeaten 236 in a dead rubber. Still one of the very few to ever score a double hundred against the great pace quartet.Gavaskar sealed his career with a classic 96 at Bangalore v Pakistan on the worst of cricket pitches resembling a surgeon successfully operating a patient considered incurable.I canot viuslaize even Brdaman ,Viv or even Sachin equallig Sunny in that innings.Similarly I would not have backed Tendulkar to equal Gavaskar's cavalier 90 on cracked Ahmedbad pitch against WEst Indies in 1983. Viv Richards ranked Sunny as the best batsmen of his day,Sobers as the best he saw above Tendulkar with Roberts and Holding also placing him ahead of Sachin.Imran Khan felt he wast he most compact batsmen he ever bowled to.Experts Cristopher Martin Jenkins and John Woodcock rated Sunny very close to Bradman . Sunny was more successful than Sachin Tendulkar in 4th innings of test matches which is significant. and scored more centuries facing the great pacemen than Lara,Tendulkar or even Dravid and Kohli.Still it is Viv Richards,Sobers,Lara and Tendulkar or now Kohli or Smith who could give more shape to games with their great reserves of talent or creativity .Bradman was not fully tested against all the teams but I very much doubt he would have averaged less than 7--75 with his outstanding record,even if he may not have equalled or surpassed Gavaskar's tenacity facing lethal pace.Gavaskar in my view did not equal Jack Hobbs on wet sticklers or his best performances in adverse condition s and Jack Hob's phenomenal 1st class figures rank him ahead.Hammond's supreme domination in all conditions place him a notch ahead of Sunny.Unlike Lara and Tendulkar Gavaskar never played against South Africa who had a great bowling attacks and not as successful against Australia,particularly in their conditions.Both faced superior spin more succesfully than Sunil. Adding Kerry Packer cricket stats Greg Chapell may rate ahead with his 621 runs in 4 supertests in West Indies in 1979 and scoring 1416 runs at 56-14 overall in WSC.Graeme Pollock.George Headley,Javed Miandad ,Rahul Dravid and Herbert Sutcliffe also had better averages and Border a higher aggregate.However if you overall weigh burden carried off the team and strength of attacks faced ,state of the attack and conditions played in ,Gavaskar would in my view edge them all.Sunny negotiated the new or bouncing ball better than any of them or even the moving ball.To me Greg Chappell opting out of 1981 Ashes,never playing in India and retiring before facing Clive Lloyds West Indies team in 1984-85 away and at home goes against his being rated ahead or on par with Sunny Although a better record against great pacemen Greg did not prove the equal of Gavaskar against spin or the moving ball.Border was the ultimate champion in a crisis but did not have to open the batting and in my view was not Gavaskar's technical equal or as complete. I feel Gavaskar draws with Len Hutton and Barry Richards.Gavaskar was technically a carbon copy of Hutton.Hutton was more adept on bad surfaces,Gavaskar more durable against lethal pace.Hutton had a higher average but did not face as high quality bowling.Hutton won more games but Gavaskar had to shoulder much more of his team's burden.Barry Richards hardly had an international career but including WSC supertests he had a staggering average of over 75,averaging over 79 in Packer cricket and 72.57 v Australia in ahoe series.In Ist class cricket no batsmen ever looked more perfect or complete as Bary who was virtually on par with Viv in terms of domination.Significant that Bradman chose Barry instead of Len or Sunil in his all-time xi.My personal choice would be Barry with Jack Hobbs. Amongst great cricketers I more or less agree with Cristopher Martin Jenkins and Geof Armstrong who rank Gavaskar around 25th place.Gavaskar would be shaded by Bradman,Grace,Sobers,Hobbs ,Warne Tendulkar,Barnes,Hammond,Imran,Marshall,Lara,Kallis,Botham,Murali ,Lillee ,Gichrist etc.A virtual photo finish to me with Wasim Akram ,Richard Hadlee ,Len Hutton,Glen Mcgrath and thus more or less equal.A whisker above Ambrose,Graeme Pollock,Alan Border,Javed Miandad ,Dale Steyn and Ricky Ponting.Considering the stage of their careers I do not know where to bracket Steve Smith or Virat Kolhli who wil probally edge Sunny at the end of their careers to rank ahead.