The cricketing fraternity is left in deep remorse, as one of the cricketing icons, Ajit Wadekar passed away at the age of 77. Eminent cricketers across the globe have expressed their emotions on various social media. Let us explore the various aspects of the life of this icon, probably unknown to many of us:
● From Mathematics To The 22 Yards!
left-handed “aggressive” batsman from Bombay, was initially backed by his parents to study Mathematics. So that, he could pursue Engineering as his career. However, young Ajit had some other plans. He backed himself to become a cricketer. And soon in 1958-1959 domestic season, he made his debut for Bombay. His First Class stats tell a lot about the level of his talent. But it took 8 more years for him to get the Indian Test Cap.
● A Captain, Extraordinary!
Title More than his batting abilities, Wadekar will be remembered for his contribution to Indian Cricket as a captain. He led a squad which includes Sunil Gavaskar, Gundappa Viswanath, Farook Engineer and the spin quatret. He was the first Indian captain to achieve the milestone of winning overseas, which includes wins in West Indies and England.
Although he was considered by some as a ‘lucky’ captain but it was not easy inheriting the Indian captaincy from Mansoor Ali Khan.
● Untimely Retirement!
Wadekar is also the man who represented Indian Cricket Team in it’s first ever ODI match versus England. In this match Wadekar batted at his regular position, that is No. 3. He went on to score 67 runs on a losing cause. Following team’s horrifying performance in that same tour, Wadekar decided to retire from International arena. Soon after that Wadekar, after 1 more First Class match, retired from all forms of Cricket.
● One Of The Few To Become India’s Player, Captain & Coach:
He is one of the few Indians to represent the country as Test player, captain, coach/manager and the chairman of selectors. He was there in the Indian dressing-room in the 1990s when Mohammad Azharuddin was in the charge of the team. As a manager as well, he had seen several highs and lows.
● Rift With BCCI :
Wadekar was honoured with the Arjuna Award. In 1972, he received the Padmashree, India’s fourth highest civilian honour. Other awards include CK Nayudu Lifetime achievement Award, Sportsperson of the Year, and the Castrol Lifetime Achievement Award. Despite his contribution to the sport, he had a conflict with BCCI, regarding ICL( a private T20 tournament hosted by Zee Media between 2007-2009 ), a tournament which BCCI steongly opposed at that point of time.
However, one cannot simply ignore the contribution of Mr. Ajit Wadekar in the arena of cricket. His contribution served as the basic building block for something which turned Indian Cricket to Cricketing giant across the globe. The sport will always be indebted to him.