Saturday Aug 11 2018

Gavaskar unable to attend Imran's oath-taking ceremony


Former captain of the Indian cricket team Sunil Gavaskar says he will not be attending Imran Khan's oath-taking as the prime minister of Pakistan.

Imran Khan, former Pakistan Test captain and the chairman of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf which swept the July 25 general elections, is expected to be sworn in as prime minister on August 18 after he takes oath as a member of the National Assembly next week.

The former Test greats have faced each other on the cricket ground several times during the 1980s and 90s as the captains of their respective teams, but also share a bond of friendship lasting over several years.

Speaking to Indian journalist Rajdeep Sardesai on India Today, Gavaskar confirmed that he had spoken to Khan and was invited to his oath-taking.

"Yes, I did speak to Imran himself. He was inquiring if I'd be able to make it. I said to him that unfortunately because of my commentary commitments I won't be able to do so. But my best wishes are with him and I'm hoping to see him sooner rather than later," he said.

"I think I've known him for plenty of years. I think it's a huge moment for the cricketing fraternity that one of theirs has gone on to become the prime minister of a country so I wish him very well."

Gavaskar said Imran had "a wonderful opportunity to set up a completely new beginning as far as India-Pakistan relations are concerned.

"He is the only prime minister [of Pakistan] who has actually spent a lot of time in India. He is probably the only Pakistani after partition who has been to India several times, has met with the common man apart from all the dignitaries and therefore understands India better than any other prime minister. And therefore I'm hoping that with that kind of understanding, he will have an outlook towards India which is perhaps different than the other prime ministers," he said.

When asked if Gavaskar would try to emulate Imran in India, he smiled and said: "No, no chance. That's not for me."

According to media reports, former Indian cricketers Kapil Dev and Navjot Singh Sidhu have accepted Imran's invitation to attend his oath-taking.

"It will be quite a gathering. I wish I could have gone, but unfortunately my commitments do not allow me to do so," said Gavaskar.

When asked further if he thought cricketers make good politicians, he said: "Well, we'll have to just wait and see."

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) had invited three former Indian cricketers to Imran's oath-taking ceremony.

These included Gavaskar, Kapil Dev and Navjot Singh Sidhu.