Ajit Wadekar's funeral procession © PTI
Former India cricket captain Ajit Wadekar’s funeral procession © PTI

Former India cricket captain Ajit Wadekar, who died on August 15, was cremated at the Shivaji Park crematorium here today with full state honours.

Wadekar had led India to its first ever series victories in West Indies and England on consecutive tours in the glorious summer of ’71. He served Indian cricket in different capacities — as manager, coach and a selector. A batsman par excellence, he was also the first to captain India in the One-Day Internationals. It would not be wrong to say that Wadekar was the man who taught India to win overseas.

A thoroughly educated man with traditional middle-class values, Wadekar served with distinction in the State Bank of India after taking retirement from international cricket. It is a common observation in Indian cricket that it was Wadekar who brought the inherent toughness of Mumbai cricket to the national setup.

He played with finesse and was regarded as one of the most classy left-handed batsmen to have graced the field in India until Sourav Ganguly burst onto the scene in 1996. Wadekar was a voracious accumulator of runs in Ranji trophy where playing for his home team Bombay (as it was known then), he scored 4,388 runs at 59.29. These runs came in an era when the stars played the domestic tournament. He was a mainstay of the Bombay Ranji side (as captain towards his final years) that lifted the trophy for 15 consecutive seasons.

Wadekar’s body was kept at his Worli residence this morning for his well-wishers to pay their tributes. Cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar, Vinod Kambli, Sameer Dighe, former hockey captain M M Somaiya and past and present officials of the Mumbai Cricket Association offered their prayers and condolences. BCCI General Manager (Cricket Operations) Saba Karim also paid tributes on behalf of the Cricket Board.

Politicians cutting across party lines, including Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut also offered their prayers. Wadekar’s body was then taken to the Shivaji Park Gymkhana (SPG) in Dadar in Central Mumbai in an open truck. At the Gymkhana, former India cricketers Sandeep Patil, Nilesh Kulkarni, domestic cricket stalwart Padmakar Shivalkar and officials of the SPG also offered their last respects to departed soul.

Jatin Paranjpe was also present at the SPG, while his father Vasu Paranjpe was there at the crematorium. Wrapped in the Tricolour, Wadekar’s body was later was taken to the crematorium. A few of his well-wishers remembered the late India captain after the rituals were performed.

In the presence of family members and well-wishers, Wadekar was bid a tearful adieu as Mumbai Police gave him a gun salute.

(With Inputs from PTI)