Source: The Hitavada      Date: 17 Aug 2018 13:03:10










THE Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) did itself a great good the moment it nominated ace cricketer and batsman Ajit Wadekar as the Captain of the Indian cricket team, in the late sixties and early seventies. True, there were a few raised eyebrows about the selection. But all those found themselves flattened soon as Ajit Wadekar started leading his team to victory after victory -- not just in matches but also in complete series. That experience was altogether new to Indian cricket and the fans. Let alone the excited reaction in India, but all cricket-playing nations registered a sense of shock as well as surprise as the Indians positioned themselves as one of the top teams in the world. This miracle of sorts was brought about by one man -- Ajit Wadekar, a highly-placed banker by profession and a dedicated cricketer by advocation. He gave the Indian cricketers a sense of their own potential, and also a sense of direction for the future.

Ajit Wadekar is no more, having passed away at 77 years of age. Those who have followed cricket for the past five decades will realise what a great loss his death entails -- to Indian as well as world cricket. This is one loss whose deep damage can be felt by those who know how Indian team failed to utilise its potential even though it was available in abundance. That was Wadekar’s gift to the nation -- telling the mates how to make the difference.
If Nawab Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi is credited to have led successfully a rather demoralised Indian team -- after the unfortunate exit of Nari Contractor through a hit at the back of his head, Wadekar is talked about as the man who picked up the responsibility to take the team further towards a better squad. The two men made a critical difference to Indian cricket at a time when things looked rather bleak.

Wadekar’s greatness stemmed from his ability to nurse young talent -- like that of Sunil Gavaskar, Gundappa Vishwanath -- and mix it with the abilities of experienced players -- like Dilip Sardesai and others. Under his wings, the youngsters felt like seniors, and seniors felt enthusiastic like their younger mates. The combination worked only because they all had a great cricketer and a terrific leader with them.
The world of cricket will miss the man from now on. Cheers, Ajit!