Sunil Gavaskar is a cricketing legend, with more Test centuries than anyone not named Sachin Tendulkar, Ricky Ponting, or Rahul Dravid. Nowadays though, he plies his trade as a cricket commentator, and as such, was present for the second Test between India and Bangladesh at Eden Gardens.
During the game, which was a one-sided blowout in favour of India, "Sunny" made a few choice statements that didn't sit well with viewers.
When Bangladesh were forced into making two concussion substitutes during their first innings, Gavaskar thought it appropriate to voice his displeasure with the implementation of this rule.
This wasn't the first time Gavaskar has commented moronically regarding concussion substitutes. In the 2nd T20 between India and Bangladesh earlier in November, Liton Das (again) required treatment after a Khaleel Ahmed yorker hit him flush on the foot. During the subsequent break, Gavaskar couldn't help himself and asked,
"Now the question is, if he has to retire, why can't a foot substitute be allowed? There is a concussion substitute, and if he can't take continue, have a foot substitute!"
He goes on to justify his comment, saying: "If it's someone's incompetence to get hit on the head, and it is nothing else but incompetence - whether he is defending one, or ducking, or going for an attacking shot and he gets hit on the helmet - that is incompetence of the batsman and I don't really believe there should be a concussion substitute."
Ok Boomer. When you conflate physical injuries that will heal (like broken bones or bruises) with trauma to the brain, you've well and truly lost the plot. When you then say that the concussed player should pay for their "incompetence" by either costing their team a player or by being forced to carry on (as they must have, in your generation) you're dismissing the severity of the injury entirely. Concussions are not just like any other injury, and they should most certainly not be treated as such.
Head injuries are a growing concern amongst sportsmen - cricketers and otherwise - and Gavaskar's comments scream of what I'd like to call "boomer mentality", or from an irresistible urge to say "back in my day, we were tougher."
Well, Mr. Gavaskar, you're not tougher for your generation's lack of basic care for mental illness. Concussions can cause Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) which is a rapidly growing cause of concern for sportsmen, following revelations that hundreds, if not thousands of NFL players have suffered some form of the condition from their time playing in that league. It's even led to numerous players cutting lucrative careers short out of fear that the condition will cost them their lives.
In one high-profile case that brought CTE to public attention, former New England Patriots tight-end Aaron Hernandez murdered a man named Odin Lloyd, over a small dispute. He later committed suicide in jail, after being indicted for the murder. A post-mortem examination revealed that Hernandez had an extreme case of CTE, which many say contributed to his change in personality and crimes.
Clearly, head injuries and concussions are no laughing matter, and they should not be belittled. Especially not by someone with as much authority as Sunil Gavaskar.
The ICC's implementation of a rule to protect its players from further brain damage is one that should be lauded, rather than derided, and Gavaskar should be ashamed of himself.
While its current system may be unfeasible in the long-term, it does no-one any good for Gavaskar to suggest that those who can't deal with the short ball (and by extension getting hit in the head) shouldn't play the sport. Risking permanent brain damage is not required for people to play cricket, and the suggestion just shows how out of touch Gavaskar is with the world.
Once the game was completed, Gavaskar showcased his boomer mentality once more, this time when he took offence to Virat Kohli's post-match comments, where the India captain praised former captain and current BCCI chairman Sourav Ganguly for raising a generation of aggressive bowlers.
Kohli had said "Test cricket is a mental battle. In the past nobody was trying to injure batsmen. Was about getting into their heads & getting them out which used to happen, but now we've learnt to stand up & give it back. Started with Dada's team, we're just carrying it forward."
Gavaskar took umbrage to the fact that Kohli hadn't credited him and his achievements, and snidely suggested that he'd only thanked Ganguly because of his position as BCCI president. He then went on to talk about his teams and his accomplishments, in what I think is his desperate attempt to stay relevant.