Veteran cricket coach Ramakant Achrekar, who trained Sachin Tendulkar, passed away at his residence in Dadar on Wednesday. He was 86.
The Achrekar family confirmed that the veteran coach was not keeping well for the last three days and his condition deteriorated on Wednesday.
Tendulkar, along with Vinod Kambli and Pravin Amre, visited Achrekar’s residence in Dadar and paid their respects to Achrekar. The last rites will be performed on Thursday morning.
An institution among coaches, Achrekar played only a solitary first-class game and rose to prominence in the 1980s when several of his students made names in Mumbai's local cricket.
At least a dozen of disciples - including Balwinder Singh Sandhu, Chandrakant Pandit, Lalchand Rajput, Tendulkar, Kambli, Amre, Sameer Dighe, Ajit Agarkar, Paras Mhambrey, Ramesh Powar - represented India in Tests and a plethora of others succeeded in first-class cricket.
Achrekar served as a cricket coach on the Mumbai maidans for more than four three decades until he was paralysed in the late 1990s.
Kambli, while leaving Achrekar's residence said, "I am in a state of shock."
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In recognition of his contribution as coach, he was honoured with the Dronacharya Award in 1990. Later in 2010, he was awarded the title Padma Shri, the fourth-highest civilian honour in India.
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Tendulkar has always acknowledged Achrekar's influence on his game.
"(Achrekar) Sir was strict at times, extremely strict and also caring and loving. Sir did not say well-played to me ever, (but) I knew (when) Sir has taken me to have bhel-puri or paani-puri, Sir is happy, I have done something nice on the field,” Tendulkar had spoken of Achrekar's contribution to his cricket at an event last year.
After being a regular on the Mumbai maidans in the 1940s and 1950s, he founded the Kamath Memorial Cricket Club at Shivaji Park in Dadar and continued to hone budding youngsters till he was wheelchair-bound following a paralysis attack in the late 1990s.
He is considered to be among the most selfless coaches in local cricket.
Besides grooming a battery of cricketers, such was his emphasis on discipline that many of proteges have developed into coaches of repute.
Rajput has coached three international teams, while Pandit and Amre are among the most respected and successful coaches in domestic cricket. Paras Mhambrey is the bowling coach of India A while Sulakshan Kulkarni and Amol Muzumdar have been excelling as coaches in the domestic arena and Indian Premier League.
Dinesh Lad, the coach of Rohit Sharma and father of Mumbai captain Siddhesh, is also a protege of Achrekar.
During his stint with the Sharadashram Vidya Mandir, Achrekar ensured that the game was promoted at the grassroots level.
Subhash Jadhav, who until recently was the chairman of the school, said, "He has sacrificed a lot for the school. He was very active as a coach. In fact the assistants brought in by him are only continuing coaching today as coaches."
Jadhav further stated that the school was giving Achrekar monetary help till June 1, 2018.
A tough taskmaster, there are many stories related to Achrekar which have turned into Maidan folklores. Achrekar once slapped Pandit after he had scored a 300 in a Harris Shield fixture. Pandit was out playing a reverse sweep.
Pandit asked his teacher why did he slap him despite him scoring a triple century. Achrekar's replied, "I slapped you before you got out playing such a (rash) shot after reaching 300."
His wards Tendulkar and Kambli had visited Achrekar on his birthday on December 3.
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