Resilient Gaekwad fights blood cancer, Sandeep Patil urges BCCI to help

The former Test opener and national coach has been ailing since last year

Anshuman Gaekwad (file photos)
Anshuman Gaekwad (file photos)

NH Sports Bureau

In what has been a week of celebrations for Indian cricket so far, a signed column by former national cricketer Sandeep Patil in Mumbai’s Mid-Day on Tuesday has struck a sombre note, informing us all that Anshuman Gaekwad, former India Test opener and national coach, has been suffering from blood cancer for a year and is in need of financial support for his treatment.

A day after BCCI (Board of Control for Cricket in India) secretary Jay Shah’s announcement from the West Indies that a staggering Rs 125 crore would be distributed to the Indian team, its support staff, and selectors in appreciation of winning the T20 World Cup, Patil urged the BCCI to step in with financial help for Gaekwad’s treatment, saying he had visited an ailing Gaekwad — chairman of the BCCI’s previous cricket advisory committee (CAC) — at London's King’s College Hospital in May.

Patil stated that Gaekwad had told him about his need for financial support for treatment. ‘’Soon after, Dilip Vengsarkar and I spoke to BCCI treasurer Ashish Shelar, who said he would look into our and other former cricketers’ requests for funds,’’ added Patil. ‘’I plead that this case may be considered,’’ the 1983 World Cup winner wrote.

Born in Mumbai in 1952, Gaekwad made his debut for the national team in 1974, played 40 Test matches, and participated in one World Cup. His aggregate of 1,959 runs at an average of 32.08 with a highest score of 201 perhaps does not to justice to the guts and resilience he showed as an opening batter against some of the most fearsome attacks of the era.

"How can one forget Anshu’s bravado as a batsman. One only has to refer to the events that unfolded in the Kingston Test against the West Indies in 1976, when the India camp resembled a casualty ward,’’ Patil recalled.

After his retirement from cricket in 1982, Gaekwad moved into coaching, serving as head coach of the Indian cricket team in 2000-01, and staying in touch with the sport he so dearly loved.

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