Gavaskar Hears Calypso 3 Years After Lord Relator Sings It 

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By Prior Beharry

POPULAR peanuts vendor Keith Martin, better known as Jumbo, had sung for India batting legend Sunil Gavaskar the song that immortlised him in calypso. This was last July when the Queen’s Park Oval honoured Gavaskar during the 100th Test match between India and West Indies.

Jumbo, passed away on Thursday and many recalled the time when the “nuts man” sang for the batting maestro.

At the Oval, one of the venues where he plied his trade, Jumbo on July 21, 2023, was heard singing, “Gavaskar, the real master, just like a wall, the West Indies couldn’t out Gavaskar at all…”

But Gavaskar first heard the song that celebrated him in calypso about three years after it was made. 

Gavaskar, The Real Master was composed and sung by Willard Harris, known in the world of calypso as Lord Relator, months after the India batsman made his debut in an overseas tour to the West Indies in 1971 at the age of 21. 

This wasn’t its official name but Gavaskar’s batting prowess and popularity in the West Indies made it his own calypso.

It was at the Oval ground 53 years ago  (in 1971), Gavaskar appeared in his first Test match and scored 65 and 67 not out. 

This was the second Test of the series with Gavaskar coming in with Dilip Sardesai already scoring 212 in the first in Jamaica and 112 in the first innings at the Oval. 

What made this special for the Indians was that it was the first time ever they were able to beat the West Indies in a Test. They went on to win the five-match series one-nil. 

And when Gavaskar returned to the Oval for the final game he made 124 and 220. Before this, he also played in Guyana and Barbados scoring his first Test century in the South America continent (116) and another in Little England (117).

Since then, Gavaskar has been revered in the Caribbean especially among the East Indians whose ancestors came from India as indentured labourers during the 19th and early part of the 20th Centuries. 

In Trinidad and Tobago, Carnival is a national festival that along with two days of revelry in the streets of the main towns, calypsoes are composed and sung for every season. 

After Gavaskar’s performance during his debut season in the West Indies, Lord Relator took pen to paper and sang about the Bombay (now Mumbai)-born player and the India tour of 1971. 

Lord Relator told AZP News, that he always watched cricket in what was dubbed the Concrete Stand next to the commentary box at the Queen’s Park Oval. 

He said he saw Gavaskar in 1971 and was enthralled by his performance, especially how he stood up the West Indies fast bowlers. 

“I liked how he was handling the fast bowlers and he won the hearts of many West Indians.” 

Lord Relator said after the tour, he toyed with the song in his head in an extempo style – meaning he sang it extemporaneously — and then put pen to paper. 

He noted that the song is officially called Indian Cricketers, but because of the chorus and performance of Gavaskar dubbed The Little Master by commentators, it is more popularly known as Gavaskar The Real Master.  

Lord Relator said he sang that song on Carnival Sunday in the Demanche Gras competition in 1972 and came 6th overall.  

He said some people have told him that it was the best song he ever composed and that at one time it was the most popular calypso in India. 

In July, Gavaskar was honoured during the 100th Test by the Queen’s Park Oval for still having the highest Test score at the venue – 220.

During that presentation, popular peanuts vendor Keith Martin, famously known as Jumbo, serenaded Gavaskar with the calypso. Sadly, Martin passed away at the age of 66, eight months later.

Popular nuts vendor ‘Jumbo’ is proud of his autographed Virat Kohli shirt during the 100th Test match between India and West Indies at the Queen’s Park Oval, July 2023. AZP News/Azlan Mohammed

AZP News caught up with Gavaskar, last July, at his “favourite ground” and he revealed the first time he heard the calypso. 

Of the Queen’s Park Oval, Gavaskar said, “It is my favourite ground obviously because I made my debut here and we beat West Indies for the first time ever in a Test match and we went on to win the series.  So the Queen’s Park Oval is in my heart.” 

Asked about Lord Relator’s song, Gavaskar said he heard it in 1974 during India’s tour of England and in a game with the Hampshire team that included West Indies fast bowler Andy Roberts.  

Gavaskar said the players were having lunch when Roberts asked him if he heard the calypso. And the batsman replied, “What Calypso?”

Then Roberts told Gavaskar that Lord Relator had sung a calypso about him.  

Gavaskar said, “Remember those were the days of the cassette.”  

So Roberts brought a cassette player and Gavaskar heard the song for the very first time. Roberts also made a copy for him.  

What were his thoughts?  

“I just loved it. Typical calypso which gets your foot tapping and you know there is a great rhythm to it. And I think the words that the Lord Relator used were just marvellous words. 

“I can’t thank him enough for that particular song because I sincerely believed that the song was a tribute to everybody.  

“Lord Relator has taken every single players’ name. But the fact that he finished with those two lines, ‘Gavaskar, the real master,” that has given me much more here in the West Indies than another calypso that was done so I can’t thank Lord Relator enough,” Gavaskar said.

Gavaskar said he tries to come to Trinidad whenever he can especially when India are playing. He said he came in 1995 to celebrate the 150 anniversary of the arrival of East Indians to Trinidad and this time came on a personal visit. 

He said, “Whenever the opportunity arises, I try to come here which I consider my second home.” 

The Cricket World Cup 2024 takes place in the West Indies and the USA during the month of June and India and the West Indies are part of this tournament.

Lyrics of Indian Cricketers popularly called Gavaskar the Real Master:

A lovely day for cricket, blue skies and gentle breeze
The Indians are awaiting now, to play the West Indies
A signal from the umpire, the match is going to start
The cricketers come on the field, they all look very smart

Erapalli Prasanna, Jeejeebhoy and Wadekar
Krishnamurthy and Vishnoo Mankad
Them boys could real play cricket, on any kinda wicket
They make the West Indies team look so bad
We was in all kinda trouble, Joey Carew pull a muscle
Clive Lloyd get ’bout three run out, we was in trouble without a doubt

It was Gavaskar, de real master
Just like a wall, we couldn’t out Gavaskar at all, not at all
You know the West Indies couldn’t out Gavaskar at all

Ven-kat-a-ra-ghavan, Bedi, in a turban
Vijay Jaisimha, Jayantilal
They help to win the series, against the West Indies
At Sabina Park and Queen’s Park Oval
A hundred and fifty-eight by Kanhai, really sent our hopes up high
Noriega nine for ninety-five, de Indian team they still survive

It was Gavaskar, de real master
Just like a wall, we couldn’t out Gavaskar at all, not at all
You know the West Indies couldn’t out Gavaskar at all

Govindraj and Durani, Solkar, Abid Ali, Dilip Sardesai and Viswanath
They make West Indies bowlers, look like second raters
When those fellos came out here to bat
West Indies tried Holder and Keith Boyce
They had no other choice, they even try with Uton Dowe
But ah sure that they sorry they bring him now!

It was Gavaskar, de real master
Just like a wall, we couldn’t out Gavaskar at all, not at all
You know the West Indies couldn’t out Gavaskar at all

Little Desmond Lewis, also Charlie Davis
Dey take a little shame from out we face
But Sobers as a captain, he want plenty coachin’
Before we cricket end up in a disgrace
Bedi hear that he became a father,
He catch out Holford in the covers
But when Sobers hear he too had a son,
he make duck and went back in the pavilion

It was Gavaskar, de real master
Just like a wall, we couldn’t out Gavaskar at all, not at all
You know the West Indies couldn’t out Gavaskar at all

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