Hours after being subjected to online backlash for ‘sexism’ and ‘misogyny’ on the basis of fake news, ace cricketer Sunil Gavaskar responded to the controversy, surrounding his comments on Virat Kohli and Anushka Sharma, during the Delhi Daredevils Vs Chennai Super Kings match.
On Friday night, Gavaskar took out time from his usual game commentary to speak on the issue, which has created an upheaval on social media. He clarified, “I want to tell everyone to watch and listen to the video clip again… You can give your opinion after having seen the entire video. Don’t listen to others or read fabricated headlines (of news channels)… Watch it with your own eyes and years… My conscience is clear. I have not made any comment which can be deemed as derogatory or sexist.”
Gavaskar highlights the lack of training for cricketers during lockdown
During an interview with India Today, Gavaskar clarified that his co-commentator Akash Chopra had raised the issue of the lack of practice of IPL cricketers. “Rohit did not strike the ball well. He got runs in the second match. MSD did not strike the ball in the first game. Virat also did not strike the ball. Most of the batsmen didn’t because of the lack of practice. That was the point I made – Virat had no practice and the only practice he had was when he was filmed with Anushka bowling to him,” he emphasised.
Gavaskar asked, “She was bowling to him. I did not use any other word. That’s all. Where am I blaming her? Where am I being sexist in this?” He added that his comment was in reference to the video shot from the neighbouring buildings. He highlighted that his comment was intended to the lack of practice and training underwent by cricketers, amidst the lockdown that was imposed in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic. “I am not being sexist. If somebody has interpreted it, then, what can I do?” Gavaskar stated.
Gavaskar denies allegations of blaming Anushka for Virat’s poor performance
On being asked by anchor Boria Majumdar about the specific targeting of Anushka Sharma for her husband’s non-performance in the field, as stated in her Instagram story, the ace cricketer responded, “I will like to say again. Where am I blaming her? I am only saying that the video said (showed) that she was bowling to Virat. So, Virat has only faced this bowling in the lockdown period. It’s a fun tennis ball game that people have (play) to pass time during the lockdown. And that’s all.”
Where have I been sexist during my commentary? #SunilGavaskar breaks his silence over the controversy involving #AnushkaSharma and #ViratKohli.— IndiaToday (@IndiaToday) September 25, 2020
Watch this #exclusive conversation with @BoriaMajumdar pic.twitter.com/9OzTbUih0B
He reiterated how he had always been vocal about wives travelling with their cricketer husbands on tour. “You know me, I am the one who batted for wives going with husbands on tour,” he concluded.
Anushka Sharma slams Sunil Gavaskar on Instagram
On Friday, Anushka Sharma took to Instagram to express her displeasure over the supposedly ‘sexist’ comments of Sunil Gavaskar. She stated, “That, Mr Gavaskar, your message is distasteful is a fact but I would love for you to explain why you thought of making such a sweeping statement on a wife accusing her of her husband’s game?”
While emphasising the need for respecting one’s privacy, Sharma continued, “I’m sure over the years you have respected the private lives of every cricketer while commentating on the game. Don’t you think you should have equal amount of respect for me and us? I’m sure you can have many other words and sentences in your mind to use to comment on my husband’s performance from last night or are your words only relevant if you use my name in the process?”
Anushka Sharma had been targeted in the past for the poor performance of her husband. Recounting her ordeal, she stated, “its 2020 and things still don’t change for me. When will I stop getting dragged into cricket and stop being used to pass sweeping statements?”
“Respected Mr Gavaskar, you are a legend whose name stands tall in this gentleman’s game. Just wanted to tell you what I felt when I heard you say this,” she concluded.
Sunil Gavaskar targeted with fake news
Referring to the poor form of Virat Kohli, Gavaskar had said on Thursday, “Lockdown tha to sirf Anushka ki bowling ki practice ki unhone, wo video dekhi hai, usse to kuch nahi hona hai.” (He only faced Anushka’s bowling during the lockdown, I have watched that video, nothing is going to happen from that)”.
A day later, on Friday, media networks and TV channels went on to make misleading claim that the legendary batsman had made unsavoury remarks against Virat Kohli. Social media users also called BCCI for the sacking of Sunil Gavaskar from the commentary team. In reality, Sunil Gavaskar did not make any sexist or vulgar remark against Bollywood actress Anushka Sharma. In fact, Sunil Gavaskar was referring to the viral video of the couple playing cricket that had surfaced during the country’s coronavirus lockdown.