In his cricketing career, Sachin Tendulkar has rarely shown his emotions on the field. Among the many things that his mentor, Ramakant Achrekar, taught him, the most important one was to always remain calm and composed.
On Thursday morning as Achrekar started his final journey, Tendulkar bade a tearful adieu to his mentor.
He broke down time and again as the procession left Achrekar’s residence for the last rites at the Shivaji Park crematorium.
Related: Remembering Achrekar 'sir'
His friends and peers, Balwinder Singh Sandhu, Chandrakant Pandit, Pravin Amre, Vinod Kambli, tried comforting him.
As the cortège reached Shivaji Park, where Achrekar coached aspiring cricketers, a bunch of budding cricketers gave him a guard of honour amid chants of ‘Achrekar Sir Amar Rahe’.
“It is a big loss for us. He was not just a coach, he was like a father to both Sachin and me,” an emotional Kambli told Sportstar .
While Tendulkar, Kambli, Sandhu, Pandit took the centre stage, Achrekar’s other wards — Amol Mazumder, Paras Mhambrey, Samir Dighe, Atul Ranade, Sairaj Bahutule, Ramesh Powar — were also present.
Mumbai Ranji coach Vinayak Samant, Nilesh Kulkarni, Pradeep Sunderram, Vinod Raghvan, also paid their homage to the cricket guru.
Office-bearers of the Mumbai Cricket Association, veteran cricket administrator Prof Ratnakar Shetty too paid their last respects. “Achrekar has produced a lot of talents who have gone on to play for India and for Mumbai. He ensured that the cricketers got jobs and were settled in life,” Shetty said.
“That so many cricketers have come to pay him homage certifies what he has done for them,” the former BCCI General Manager (Game Development), said.
Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray, MLA and BJP leader Ashish Shelar, Mayor Vishwanath Mahadeshwar also paid tributes to the decorated coach.
For his wards, Achrekar was a man of strong of principles and as the coach left for his final journey, everyone had a story to tell. If Sandhu credits him for transforming him into a pacer from a spinner, Kambli is grateful to Achrekar for making him a cricketer. “If you ask any cricketer in Mumbai, he will have something or the other to say about him (Achrekar),” Sandhu, a member of India’s 1983 World Cup-winning side, said.
Achrekar was an institution and helped many cricketers to dream. If he spotted a talent, he would make it a point to help the ward in every possible way. And with that, there would be life lessons. “He was always there for us. And that made sir so special,” Kambli said.
That was Achrekar.
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