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Arvind Apte: The cavalier born ahead of his times

Arvind Apte. Picture courtesy: Express News Service
Arvind Apte. Picture courtesy: Express News Service

Arvind Apte, the aggressive opener, passed away on August 5, 2014. Abhishek Mukherjee takes a trip down memory lane in his obituary.

Had he been playing now, Arvindrao Laxmanrao Apte, with his dashing batsmanship at the top of the order and quality fielding, would have been ideal for the shorter formats; unfortunately, he was born in an era where his career coincided with the khadoos Bombay school of opening, that too at the peak of their success story.

Arvind Apte, brother of the more famous Madhav (who was dropped mysteriously after averaging 49.27 from seven Tests), was a crowd-puller when on song. Never afraid to take risks, Arvind Apte was — somewhat unusually for an Indian opener of the era — flamboyant in his strokeplay.

Apte was selected for the England tour of 1959 following an excellent domestic season of 1958-59 where he scored 639 runs at 53.25; this included 141 against Gujarat and 149 against Baroda. In Ranji Trophy he managed 564 at 70.50 — a tally bettered by only Pankaj Roy (100.83).

The England tour did not go well for Apte: he scored his career-best 165 against Derbyshire, 103 against Glamorgan, and 112 against Arthur Gilligan’s XI, but eventually finished with 881 runs at 27.53. He also played his only Test on this tour, opening in both innings but failing with scores of eight and seven: he was claimed by Alan Moss in each innings.

As time passed, retaining a spot in the Bombay side became extremely difficult for Apte: he moved to Rajasthan (who were, rather ironically, Bombay’s arch rivals during their glory days), and continued to play for them till his retirement in 1970-71. Following retirement he helped enhance their family textile business along with his elder brother.

(Abhishek Mukherjee is the Deputy Editor and Cricket Historian at CricketCountry. He blogs here and can be followed on Twitter here.)

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