Sportstar archives: Hirwani is no Gupte, says Ajit Wadekar

Former India captain Ajit Wadekar discusses Dilip Vengsarkar's captaincy skills, India's upcoming tour of West Indies in 1989 and the MRF Pace Foundation.

Ajit Wadekar had led India to victory against West Indies and England in their own backyard.   -  FILE PHOTO/P.V. SIVAKUMAR


In the history of Indian cricket, Ajit Laxman Wadekar finds mention as the first Indian captain to record series victories against two cricketing giants, West Indies and England, on their soil. He is also remembered as a dashing
left-handed bat, a sharp fielder in the slips and for his accurate throwing. A Deputy General Manager (Public Relations) with the State Bank of India, Ajit was recently in Raipur in connection with a bank tournament.

Inspite of his tight schedule, he talked on various topics in cricket.

You retired from the cricket scene all of a sudden when still at your best. Was it because of the 3-0 defeat against England?

There were many reasons for quitting. First the money in the game was quite minimal. Secondly, I was not able to devote enough time to my family as I was playing nine months in a year. Age was also a factor because I came to the Test scene relatively late. In fact I had made up my mind to retire even before the English tour of 1974. Victory or defeat is all part of the game, so the defeat was not the factor at all.

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You had led India to victory in the Caribbean. How would you rate India's chances on the present tour?

This tour will be very tough because playing the West Indies, that too on their soil, is a painstaking job. They have bowlers like Malcolm Marshall, Curtly Ambrose, Patrick Patterson and Courtney Walsh who can destroy any batting lineup. Viv Richards has matured in captaincy. When we went, we had world-class spinners. But the present team does not have experienced tweakers and I doubt if Narendra Hirwani will be successful. He is way behind the calibre of Subhash Gupte. Nevertheless, if our spinners can tie down the talented West Indians and our batsmen in turn play with proper planning then there is some chance. Mohinder Amarnath's presence would have been a big boost to the team's morale.

From left: Ramakant Desai, Bapu Nadkarni, the team captain Nawab of Pataudi and Ajit Wadekar in 1968.   -  THE HINDU ARCHIVES


What do you feel about the Amarnath episode?

I feel Mohinder has always been subjected to injustice by the selectors. I see nothing wrong in his calling the selectors jokers. Gavaskar had said so once, then why is there so much fuss now? Mohinder can drag them to the courts because the Board has no right to fine a player. It can at the most ban him.

Ajit Wadekar, addressing a meeting, organised to felicitate him by Chiambaranar District cricket association at Tuticorin in 1995.   -  THE HINDU ARCHIVES


Your views on the South Africa issue, which almost led to a split in the ICC?

ICC's decision of banning a player or a coach linked with South Africa is correct and wise. England has always been equivocal on this issue.

Players writing has been a headache for the Board. Do you support the players?

A captain should refrain from such things during matches because if he criticises any of his players it could lead to friction in the team.

Umpiring is getting controversial of late. How can the situation be improve?

The standard of umpiring is going down. The task of umpires become a lot more demanding because of the approach of the players, who believe in gamesmanship and exert pressure. To counteract this trend, umpires should be given more powers such as ordering players off the ground.

How do you rate Dilip Vengsarkar as a captain?

I have always believed that a captain should be a batsman. A bowler-captain may overbowl himself as Bishan Singh Bedi and Ray lllingworth did. Vengsarkar has proved a good and clever captain. He should have been given the job earlier, Kapil is a natural player but was not all that hot as captain. For the future, I see Srikkanth as the right candidate.

In your time, one day cricket was in the early phase and now it has blossomed fully. Do you think it will replace Test match in importance?

One day cricket is just a wave, not true cricket. Because it is result-oriented, it is popular. But it cannot displace Test match. To make Tests more interesting, an over-limit system, as followed in the English County Cricket should be adopted.

What is your opinion about the MRF pace foundation?

No doubt it is a laudable venture. But I feel selection should be a lot more broadbased. Pace bowlers can be unearthed from rural areas of Punjab, M.P., Kolhapur etc. and not from the metropolitan cities alone.

This interview was first published in Sportstar on 18.03.1989

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