Batting legend Sachin Tendulkar on Thursday walked down the memory lane along with Vinod Kambli and Pravin Amre as the trio along with former BCCI president Sharad Pawar gathered at the Shivaji Park to pay homage to Ramakant Achrekar.
Achrekar, who played a key role in shaping Tendulkar's cricketing career passed away last week.
At the condolence meet, an emotional Pawar remembered the late coach and went on to say that Mumbai ‘desperately needs’ someone like Achrekar.
For the record, Mumbai was knocked out of the ongoing Ranji Trophy and failed to qualify for the quarterfinals.
“I am am disturbed because of the current performance of the Mumbai team. It can evoke restlessness among those who are passionate about it (the game). If we have to change this, then Mumbai desperately needs a coach like Achrekar," Pawar said, making it evident that Mumbai’s disastrous outing in the Ranji Trophy has affected him.
While Pawar spoke about the need of a coach like Achrekar, Tendulkar credited his coach for shaping his career.
“I still remember when I started playing cricket, we had just one bat, which belonged to (my brother) Ajit (Tendulkar). It was little bigger and my grip was low on the handle. Sir observed this for a few days and then took me to a side and told me to try and hold the bat a little up," Tendulkar reminisced.
“After that Achrekar sir observed me play and said it wasn’t working because I was not having the same control and my shots were not coming off. After seeing that I didn't have the same control, sir told me to forget whatever he had said earlier and asked me to go back to the original grip,” the batting maestro added.
The former India captain further said that by not asking him to change his grip, Achrekar sent out a message that coaching isn’t all about making changes.
“Sometimes it is important not to coach . If my grip would have changed then I think I would not have played so long. But sir had vision on how my game would be better and what suits me,” recalled the legendary batsman, who played 200 Test matches in his career spanning 24 years.
Every time a player would throw away his wicket, playing a rash shot, Achrekar would ‘slap’ them, and his wards treated it as a ‘ prasad ’.
“All the students of sir know what ‘ prasad ’ means. Vinod, did you get the ‘ prasad ’?” a smiling Tendulkar asked Kambli, who replied with a yes.
Achrekar’s ward and a well-known local coach, Naresh Churi, too remembered Achrekar.
"Sir always used to preserve worn out balls. He had a bag full of such balls which nobody would have liked to use. However, sir did what no coach has done even now - recycling the balls. We all used to peel off the outer surface of the ball and send the inner portion to a factory in Meerut. He used to purchase the recycled balls at half price,” Churi said.
That’s how Achrekar ensured that his wards could keep on playing the game.