Ajit Wadekar © AFP (File Photo)
Ajit Wadekar © AFP (File Photo)

Former Mumbai cricketers Milind Rege and Pravin Amre along with veteran coach Vasu Paranjape walked down memory lane in a condolence meeting held in memory of former India and Mumbai captain Ajit Wadekar in Mumbai today. The former captain breathed his last on 15 August, 2018.

Rege, who played as a batsman and off-break bowler for Mumbai in the 1970s and for the most part under former India and Mumbai captain Ajit Wadekar described Wadekar as a captain for whom players wanted to perform. Wadekar, who also served as a senior officer in the State Bank of India for many years, captained India to glorious victories against the West Indies and England for the first time in their backyard in 1971. Rege played for the most part under the great man’s captaincy.

“You wanted to perform for Ajit. The entire Mumbai team wanted to perform for one man (Wadekar),” said Rege. Rege recalled an instance when skipper Wadekar reposed faith in his skills as a spinner. “My first match, Rest of India vs Bombay then and I and Sunil (Gavaskar) had seen the players from the stands. The who’s who —-Chandu Borde, Tiger Pataudi, Hanumant Singh, Abid Ali —all these big players came for batting. Ajit gave me the ball and said Milind, don’t look at the batsmen, just look at the wicket and bowl. They (the opposition batsmen) might be big but are you less?” recalled Rege.

“Can you imagine giving an advise to an 18-year-old kid having hardly played any class of cricket, and that is what Ajit Wadekar made us. He made us solid cricketers for Mumbai. It was Ajit Wadekar who made the Mumbai team,” he added.

Paranjape, a veteran coach in the Mumbai circuit, recalled Wadekar as a slip fielder par excellence. Amre recounted how helpful Wadekar’s counsel he sought once, had proved to be for him when he scored his debut hundred against South Africa at Kingsmead, Durban.

Video clips of Wadekar’s brother Ashok sharing his memories of the former India captain, were also played at the condolence meeting.