Kapil, Sachin remember ‘giant’ Wadekar

For Kapil Dev and Sachin Tendulkar, picking Ajit Wadekar’s brains was one of the most memorable phases of their cricketing career.

Sachin Tendulkar (left) described Wadekar as a “guide, mentor, senior friend” while Kapil Dev observed “he changed the thought process of the team.”   -  PTI

Kapil Dev and Sachin Tendulkar, strikingly different personalities, had a common bond — their relationship with Ajit Wadekar.

It was a delightful dressing room as long as Wadekar was the manager. For Kapil, a veteran, and Tendulkar, a youngster soaking in the glories of international cricket, it was one of the most memorable phases of their cricketing career — picking Wadekar's brains and learning the nuances.

“Wadekar established a course few had traversed in Indian cricket. He overcame big teams in 1971, made us proud, and then crafted dominance at home, spin being the weapon. He was a giant when it came to reading the game. The Bombay school of cricket was so well ingrained. I admired him for reaching an enviable stature in the bank that he worked. Not just on the field, he was a master off it, too,” raved Kapil.

‘Guide, mentor, senior, friend’

Tendulkar struggled for words. “I can’t believe he is not with us. What a wonderful guide, mentor, senior, friend. I can go on. For me, he was Ajit Sir. Someone I could go to any time. For anything. He played a huge role as a manager/coach. Kept the team together. Taught us to win. Personally, it was a critical stage for me and I was fortunate to have Ajit Sir around.”

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With his disarming smile, Wadekar would effortlessly hide his disappointment. “He changed the thought process of the team. He came from the old school but welcomed the new era. He was ready to listen to the players. Never chided us because he wanted us to learn from mistakes. I never saw him taking a strict stand. He was always composed and never interfered with your natural style. He wanted you to be happy and would do that with his brand of humour. I never saw him play but Sunny (Sunil Gavaskar) would present us a picture of his batting with countless anecdotes,” Kapil recalled.

Tendulkar called him a “perfect package.” As he added, “Ajit Sir played multiple roles. He was basically very grounded. He was professional when it was needed. If someone had to be told sternly he would that but they could be seen together in the evening. He held no rancour. At times he would ask me why did I play that shot. It was his way of correcting me. He was very meticulous and wanted me to be one. I will never forget those precious dinner meetings with him on tour. My cherished memories of Ajit Sir.”