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Vithal Patil was a master of swing, says Milind Rege

Milind Rege said that he has seen Vithal Patil (above) use a ball for one month in the nets but one side would practically be new.
Milind Rege said that he has seen Vithal Patil (above) use a ball for one month in the nets but one side would practically be new.

By Nishad Pai Vaidya

Mumbai: Jun 11, 2014

Vithal ‘Marshall’ Patil, who passed away at the age of 86 on June 10, 2014, is remembered as one of the best coaches in Mumbai, but his exploits on the field remain etched in memory. In his day, he was a swing bowler and thrived in the Kanga League. Former Mumbai cricketer Milind Rege, who played with Patil at the Dadar Union club paid rich tributes to him.

Speaking to CricketCountry, Rege said, “I played 20 years of club cricket with Marshall Patil. When I went to Dadar Union, Marshal Patil was there. He was a swing bowler, who bowled at a medium pace. He was a master at swing and had a lot of guile in his bowling. I have seen him use a ball for one month in the nets, and one side was practically new. He would maintain one side very well for a whole month.”

Patil was an exponent of swing bowling and used to bowl to Sunil Gavaskar, before he went on tours. He graced the Kanga League for 40 years and tricked batsmen with his mastery over swing. “I stood to him at gully and slip and saw him make a fool of batsmen. He had a great line and length and could out-think a batsman. He would bowl in-swingers and then bowl it the other way. I have not seen anybody who could make the ball talk that way. He was like an English seam bowler.”

Rege remembers an interesting incident when he faced Patil in a Kanga League game. “I remember one match, where Sunil [Gavaskar] and I turned up for the Cricket Club of India (CCI) as we were given honourary membership that year. We were playing our club Dadar Union and had bowled them out for 60 in the Kanga League.

“CCI were expected to win with a line-up comprising Sunil Gavaskar, Dilip Sardesai, Abbas Ali Baig, Polly Umrigar, Bapu Nadkarni, Hanumant Singh, and myself. However, we were skittled out for 40. He [Patil] bowled Sunil, who had just returned from West Indies, by knocking back his off-stump. His leg cutters were lethal and he could make the ball talk.”

Though Patil played only two games for Mumbai, he left an indelible mark on the game in the city through coaching. He coached the likes of Dilip Vengsarkar, Ravi Shastri, Sanjay Manjrekar and Shishir Hattangadi to name a few.

“He was a true gentleman, who served the game without any expectations. He deserved more accolades and appreciation than what he got. He coached many players who went on to play for Mumbai and India with distinction,” Rege concluded.

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