Madhav-Aptepsd

Five-hundred-and-forty-two-runs at 49.27, three fifties and one hundred — that’s what Madhav Apte’s record read after 7 Tests. He was dropped and never played for the country again. Born October 5, 1932, Madhavrao Laxmanrao Apte boasts the most bizarre Test record. SuvajitMustafi looks at 17 facts about the man who had once filled-in for Vijay Merchant and decades later took the field against a young Sachin Tendulkar.

1.  Started as a leg-spinner: Apte, who went on to be known for his exploits with the bat, started as a leg-spinner. He first made headlines with figures of 10 for 10 in Giles Shield.

2.  Impressing his ‘guru’ Vinoo Mankad: Apte attended Elphinstone College where Mankad was appointed as the cricket coach. On the first day of the cricket coaching, Apte in a bid to impress the star Indian all-rounder cleaned him up with a googly.

3.  Mankad-Merchant influence: It was Mankad who later converted Apte to an opening batsman. In order to learn the right technique, Mankad would ask a young Apte to go to nets and watch Vijay Merchant bat. In an interview with Espncricinfo, Apte said, “When I became an opening batsman I had to learn the technique, and there was no one better than him [Vijay Merchant] to watch. In fact, Vinoo Mankad as coach would ask us to go and watch when Vijay Merchant batted in the nets early morning, when there was dew, so that he could play against the moving ball.”

4.  First-Class debut on 19th birthday: October 5, 1951, Apte turned 19 and that was the day he made his First-Class debut. Playing for Indian Universities against the touring Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC), Apte opened the innings with skipper Pankaj Roy and scored 27.

5.  Opening with his guru and the memorable Test series: Apte made his Test debut as a 20-year-old at Brabourne Stadium in Bombay in the 3rd Test of Pakistan’s tour of India in 1952. It was Pakistan’s first ever tour of India and Apte got to open the innings with his guru, Vinoo Mankad. Apte scored 30 and 10 not out in the Test as India won it by 10-wickets.

6.  The West Indies tour: In early 1953, India toured West Indies and lost the five-Test match series 0-1. Apte played in all the 5 Tests and scored 460 runs at 51.11. He got an unbeaten 163 at Port of Spain and prior to that, three more fifties. He was only behind Everton Weekes (716 runs at 102.28) and Polly Umrigar (560 runs at 62.22) in the run-chart.

7.  The “unsolved mystery”: Despite a healthy West Indian tour, Apte never played Test cricket again. He was dropped from the side and was left wondering. In the Espncricinfo interview, he said, “That is an unsolved mystery, if I may say so, in Indian cricket. Cricketers of that period have never really found out why.”

8.  Joining family business and retirement: After being ignored by the selectors, Apte joined his family business but kept playing First-Class cricket. He made a name as a renowned industrialist. Having made his national debut at the age of 20, by the time he was 35, he gave up the hopes of making it to the national side and retired. His last First-Class game was the 1967-68 Ranji Trophy Final between Bombay and Madras. Apte scored 10 and 38, as Mumbai won the title for scoring more in the first innings.

9.  First-Class record: In a career spanning over 16 years, Apte scored 3336 runs at 38.79 in First-Class cricket, notching up six hundreds and 16 fifties.

10.  Bengal: More renowned for his exploits for Bombay, Aptee played for Bengal in 1958. In his first game for Bengal, he opened with Roy and scored 60, helping the side to an innings defeat win.

11.  Arvind Apte: Madhav’s younger brother Arvind, also played First-Class cricket for Bombay, Rajasthan and Indian Universities. He played a Test for India at Leeds and scored only 15 from his two innings. Co-incidentally, both the brothers have 6 hundreds in First-Class cricket.

12.  Sports-loving family: Apart from the willow, Apte was also good with the racquet. He excelled in tennis, squash and badminton. His son, Vaman represented India in squash and Bombay University in cricket, while his daughter too was an inter-school badminton champion.

13.  Flat near Lord’s: Apte wasn’t fortunate enough to play a Test at the cricket Mecca — Lord’s. But the cricket-loving family own a flat near the iconic venue in London.

14.  Facing Tendulkar: In the 1987-88 season, Apte then 55, turned out for CCI at Shivaji Park Gymkhana. A 14-year-old Tendulkar was playing against him. Despite not making a mark in international cricket, it’s fascinating to see how Apte has played across generations and shared the greens alongside Merchant, Sunil Gavaskar and a young Tendulkar. It was later that Apte, as the CCI president bent the rules of the dressing room to allow a 15-year-old Tendulkar become a playing member of the club.

15.  Sheriff: Apte was appointed as the Sheriff of Mumbai in 2000.

16.  Autobiography: In May 2015, Apte released his autobiography As Luck Would Have It, at the Wankhede Stadium. Several dignitaries attended the event.

17.  No regrets: Despite being unlucky with national selection, Apte remains positive and has no regrets. He was quoted by Espncricinfo, as saying, “All I can say is I wouldn’t have wanted my life to be any different. Of course, the greatest gift is really the game of cricket. Because that’s one game, and at least I have been saying it over and over again, that is a great leveller. And there is no recovery in that. The classic example is that of Sir Donald Bradman, bowled second ball off Eric Hollies when he needed only four runs to have a career average of 100. That’s what makes for the glorious uncertainty of this game.”

(Suvajit Mustafi consumes cricket for lunch, fiction for dinner and munches numerous other snacks throughout the day. Yes, a jack of several trades, all Suvajit dreamt of was being India’s World Cup winning skipper but ended up being a sports writer, author, screenwriter, director, copywriter, graphic designer, sportsmarketer , strategist, entrepreneur,  philosopher and traveller. Donning so many hats, it’s cricket which gives him the ultimate high and where he finds solace. He can be followed at @RibsGully and rivu7)