Sachin Tendulkar: ‘Well played, sir’

Indian cricket icon Sachin Tendulkar pays tribute to his childhood coach, Ramakant Achrekar, who passed away in Mumbai at the age of 86.

Former India cricketers Sachin Tendulkar and Vinod Kambli (right) with their coach Ramakant Achrekar at his residence in October 2017.   -  PTI

Indian cricket icon Sachin Tendulkar remembers his coach Ramakant Achrekar as somebody who taught him to “play straight” and “live straight”.

Achrekar passed away on Wednesday evening at his Dadar residence.

“Cricket in heaven will be enriched with the presence of Achrekar sir. Like many of his students, I learnt my ABCD of cricket under sir’s guidance.

“His contribution to my life cannot be captured in words. He built the foundation that I stand on,” said Tendulkar.

READ| Ramakant Achrekar, Sachin Tendulkar's coach, passes away

It was only last month when Achrekar and his students had a reunion of sorts. “I met sir along with some of his students and spent some time together. We shared a laugh as we remembered the old times,” he added.

“Achrekar sir taught us the virtues of playing straight and living straight. Thank you for making us a part of your life and enriching us with your coaching manual. Well played, sir and may you coach more wherever you are,” he said.

Ajit Agarkar, former India bowler

"He was a special man. Many of us got to know Mumbai by riding on his scooter all over Mumbai for playing matches. I remember after Mumbai riots in 1992, the city had come to a complete standstill. But a couple of days after it had quietened a bit, he came home at 5.30 am to fetch me and my parents couldn’t believe it.

The whole city is burning and he wants a young kid to ride on a bike, they said but Sir told them nothing doing, practice is a must. Amit Aroskar and I rode on his scooter from Dadar to to PJ Hindu Gymkhana (on Marine Lines). The nets had obviously not started. He made us run, field, fed us breakfast and rode us back home.

Even before my 10th Board exam, he used to take me to practice till the day before the exam started with a promise to my parents that he will send me back “the moment his batting is over”. Just look at the list of players who have trained under him and it won’t take more than a minute to realise he was pretty special. Sometimes it’s hard to explain how someone can be that selfless."

Chandrakant Pandit, former India cricketer

"Two memories stand out for me. When I was in school, he advised me to change the school and join Shardashram so that he could focus more on me. Must have been 1978, and the parents just didn’t see a point since they were of the firm opinion that “cricket will not give me a job”. Sir came home at 12.30 in the night to convince my parents. My father asked him the same question: “how will he earn money?” and Sir put his hand in his pocket and pulled out “a thousand rupees”, handed it over to my father and said “this is his salary for this month”.

The other is when I got my first coaching assignment when Mumbai appointed me as the Under-19 coach. He told me then “you will carry my legacy forward”. Since that day, I have only been trying to pass on whatever I learnt from Sir."

Paras Mhambrey, former India cricketer

"I was a late-starter, never played in school, so had it not been for him, someone like me with no cricket background or early goorming, would have never been able to be the cricketer I could be. He enforced the discipline, which all of us have been trying to instill in youngsters now.

Some of his traits were unique. Those days, like most others from middle-class class families, we never had money. He never asked or reminded anyone for paying fees. All he used to tell us is if and when you have the money, you can pay the fees.

At times people feel his contribution to cricket reflects in those who went on to play for India. More than that, I feel his real contribution lies in the fact that he set hundreds of lives through cricket. You go to a maidan and you will hear a story of how Sir went out of his way and helped someone deserving get a job through cricket. He set them their lives, he touched their hearts and ensured they remained connected with and grounded about cricket all their lives. I don’t think there will be another Ramakant Achrekar in cricket."

Amol Muzumdar, former Mumbai captain

"Came as a great shock when I was on the way from Kolkata to Vijayawada. Now that I have changed the plans and wait to board a flight to Mumbai from Hyderabad for Sir’s antyadarshan, the heart is filled with thousands of memories.

Two things that come to mind right away are his defining presence. When he used to walk in to Shivaji Park from the side of the Samarth Vyaym Shala, he used to be a presence and not just out net but all the nets at the Park would get into business mode. The other is when would sit on the katta behind the Kamath Memorial net and get us lunch. Mutton paav that he would get for all of us would make our day.

His one-liners about cricket and life used to be gold-dust. I can never forget one sentence. “Game cha apmaan naahi kaaraycha (Never insult the game).” He was a firm believer of justice in cricket."

Sameer Dighe, former India cricketer

"We have lost a father figure. Whatever we have achieved is because of him. We still remember his strictness and his discipline. He was tough with us but he never showed his emotions when we got successful. We were nobody and he looked after us like a son. I wasn’t in Shardashram but he looked after me so well.

Since he never said “well done” to any of us, we had to take cues from his gestures to guess that he was happy with someone’s performance. For instance, if he took someone to have chaat opposite Mafatlal or took some of us home in Wadala for dinner, we would know he was happy with our performance.

He treated everyone the same way. Didn’t matter whether you were the main player or a reseve. He would always say “cricket is a never-ending story, whether you get runs or not”.