Aug 23, 2007 at 12:04am IST

Honoured to be clubbed among the greats: Gavaskar

As part of CNN-IBN's Rising India campaign, we ran a poll on asking you to vote for your choice of Indian Sportsperson of the last 60 years. The poll was won by the Little Master Sunil Gavaskar who spoke exclusively to Roma Khanna in Southampton.

Sunil Gavaskar: I have retired alomst 20 years back, and from what I understand from the poll, the people who would have voted would have been more the IT-savvy generation. And for them to have voted is truly fulfulling, it's humbling and it's fantastic news. All I can say to all of them, irrespective of the way they have voted is a big thank you for your confidence. It's fantastic news.

Roma Khanna: How do you rate the other contenders there. It's a list of some of the names you have known at a personal level. How do you see them all?

Sunil Gavaskar: It's really an honour to be clubbed along with them. Milkha Singhji for example, or for that matter, the latest being Sachin Tendulkar. They have all in their own way contributed to Indian cricket, Indian sport, and given pleasure to so many millions of Indian cricket lovers all over the world. And not just Indian cricket lovers, but sportslovers all over the world. So to be clubbed along with them is truly humbling and I can only say a big thank you to CNN-IBN for having included me in that illustrious category.

Roma Khanna: Over the years, how do you think has sport in India grown in the 60 years since independence. People still feel that we have a long way to go. What do you see?

Sunil Gavaskar: One of the reasons is simply the fact that sport is not a career option. The moment sport becomes a career option, then you'll have a lot more parents encouraging their children to take up the sport.

The reason why a lot of parents help their children to take to cricket, is because cricket has become a career option. You don't have to be an international player, even if you are a first-class player, or even not a first-class player, you can still earn a good, decent living. And I think if that comes to all other sports, then you will find Indians making progress in every other sports.

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