If legendary Indian batsman Sunil Gavaskar never wore a helmet while batting against even the most dreaded pacemen of his era, his reading habit had a role in it.
Gavaskar, one of the greatest opening batsmen in Test cricket, used to wear a specially designed headgear to protect his skull.
Elaborating the strange reason for his not wearing a helmet, Gavaskar said, "I had a habit of reading before I sleep and on most occasion slept while reading. My neck muscles got weakened due to this and I feared that my reflexes would slow down while facing a bouncer (if I wore a helmet)."
He was speaking at a felicitation function for him and brother-in-law and former teammate Gundappa Vishwanath.
In Images: Gavaskar, Viswanath felicitated
"I remember Imran Khan (former Pakistan skipper), who is also a good friend, advising me to wear a helmet saying every batsmen will miss a ball one day, wear a helmet.
"Soon after facing a delivery from Malcolm, who was bowling round the wicket, I was hit here (indicating his forehead), which convinced me wear one. But a corner of my mind still said that this was the one ball which was now over," Gavaskar said.
Gavaskar said that he was convinced after suffering that blow that it was first and last blow so he decided to continue batting without wearing a helmet.
Gavaskar also said that if he gets another birth, he would like become a fast bowler.
"If I am born again I would like to be fast bowler so that I can also throw bouncers," the batting great said when asked if he would like to be an opening batsman yet again. "If anyone bowled one at me, I would have something to retaliate," he said.
Vishwanath recalled a prank played on him by his teammates when former skipper captain Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi enacted a kidnapping drama when he along with Erapalli Prassana and Bhagwat Chandrashekar were passing through the dacoit-ravaged Chambal.
"Some armed people posing as dacoits surrounded us. They demanded a ransom of Rs five lakh and said they would kill us if they did not receive the money. Me an Bhagwat were convinced that we were dead that day," he said.
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Continuing with the story, he said, "Prassana who was hiding inside the car tried to run away and I heard a bullet being fired. I believed that he was dead. As we did not play cricket for six months I believed that he was dead. It was only after six months that I realised that it was a prank planned by Tiger Pataudi."
Viswanath also kept the audience spellbound with his witty and humorous stories about his hey days and how he had struck a friendship with Gavaskar which is still going strong.
"We have had some wonderful partnership on the cricket field but our partnership in life has been going strong and I hope it will continue to remain so," Viswanath said.