He was a sim­ple guy who loved play­ing cricket

Sportstar - - STATSMAN NUMBER CRUNCHING / MOHANDAS MENON - SU­NIL GAVASKAR

It was im­pos­si­ble to get up­set with Ajit Wadekar, he just had that knack of win­ning peo­ple over. He will be missed greatly for they don’t make peo­ple like him any­more.

To the in­ter­net gen­er­a­tion the name Ajit Wadekar may not mean much, but to those es­pe­cially from Mum­bai who grew up in the 1960s and 70s he was one of the greats of In­dian cricket. Sheer num­bers don’t do him any jus­tice for he didn’t have the 40­plus av­er­age which was seen as the gold stan­dard in those days. But those who saw him bat will vouch for the fact that he was eas­ily one of In­dia’s best bats­men back then.

He was so con­sis­tent in the Ranji and Duleep Tro­phy matches when they were fiercely com­pet­i­tive and not the ‘help your­self to triple cen­turies’ as is the case now. The fact that triple cen­turies were so rare those days gives one an idea of how good the at­tacks were then. Not want­ing to be one who thinks only his days were great, the fact re­mains that to­day’s do­mes­tic cricket does not have the par­tic­i­pa­tion of the cur­rent In­dian in­ter­na­tion­als and so is not a real test of the do­mes­tic bats­men and bowlers. Even in­ter­univer­sity cricket had Ranji play­ers play­ing in it then and so was pretty com­pet­i­tive.

Wadekar’s triple hun­dred against B. S. Chan­drasekhar and Era­palli Prasanna was a mas­ter­piece. He was driv­ing the off­spin of Prasanna through the cov­ers and play­ing the cut and pull off Chan­dra to keep scor­ing at a good pace. For the first time the leg­endary spin twins looked lost as they didn’t know where to bowl to him.

When he came back to the dress­ing room at the var­i­ous in­ter­vals af­ter his first cen­tury I would rush to him and take off his leg guards so he could get a few mo­ments

THE HINDU PHOTO LI­BRARY

Mem­o­ries re­main: Ajit Wadekar and Su­nil Gavaskar dur­ing the Eng­land tour of 1971.

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