Shishir Hattangadi (blue T-shirt), a former Mumbai Ranji captain, with Vithal Patil. (Photo courtesy: Shishir Hattangadi).
By Nishad Pai Vaidya
Mumbai: Jun 10, 2014
Vithal Patil, who passed away at the age of 86, coached numerous players in Mumbai, who then played for the city and the country. Patil played for the Dadar Union and was a coach at Podar College. Players like Shishir Hattangadi trained under his tutelage and revere him. Hattangadi said, “I am very saddened to hear. I owe a lot him. If I am connected to cricket, it is due to him.”
Hattangadi said that Patil backed players who were committed to the game. He said, “He (Patil) had liking for committed players. If somebody was committed and punctual, he had found a connection. Most of us improved because of the Podar college nets. He was helpful, encouraging and made you want to do well for him. When you did well, you could see satisfaction or joy in his eyes. We aspired to make him happy.”
Patil, who was a swing bowler in his day, ensured that the batsmen in his nets got sufficient exposure to the new ball during practice sessions. “Every day in the nets, he would get two or three new balls. There was no shortage of practice against swing bowling,” Hattangadi said.
Hattangadi remembers that Patil used to come to the train station to see off his boys, whenever they took the journey to their under-22 or inter-university assignments. He was also very encouraging before matches. “We would land for a match and his standard line was ‘You should score a 100.’ There was a feeling of confidence and expectation. He would come to station to see us off for the tours.”
“He was a fantastic mentor for a lot of us. He made you do things simply and correctly,” Hattangadi concluded.