Wadekar started a new era, says Prasanna

Former India spinner Erapalli Prasanna remembers his skipper as ‘a perfect gentleman’.

From left: Dilip Vengsarkar, Michael Holding (of West Indies), Ajit Wadekar and Erapalli Prasanna at a function in Kolkata in 2006.   -  PTI


The two met for the last time at the Board of Control for Cricket in India’s annual awards ceremony in Bengaluru a couple of months ago. And when Ajit Wadekar caught up with his old friend, Erapalli Prasanna, he made it a point to revisit the old times.

And on Thursday morning as India’s spin legend, Prasanna, spoke to Sportstar — a few hours after Wadekar’s death — he was at a loss of words. “I really don’t know what happened. We only met at the awards (in June) and he was as cheerful as ever. I lost a dear friend and a creative contemporary,” he said.

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Having played with him — and also under his captaincy — Prasanna made it clear that Wadekar would always be remembered for his brilliance as a skipper. “He is the most successful captain India has produced so far. And most importantly, he was an excellent human being,” Prasanna, who also featured in Wadekar’s last Test against England in 1974, said.

Taking over as the captain from Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi in January 1971, Wadekar guided his team to victories in the West Indies and England. And Prasanna referred to as as the beginning of a ‘new era’ for Indian cricket.

“The platform was given to him by Pataudi and he used it to his advantage. He took Indian cricket to a different level and that was the beginning of a new cricketing era. He immensely contributed to that,” Prasanna said.

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While playing for India, they have good times and the spin great still has memories from overseas tours, where Wadekar— who looked quite serious on the field — would make all laugh. Like most of his team-mates, even Prasanna agreed that Wadekar had a terrific sense of humour. “He was a cheerful person and a perfect gentleman,” Prasanna said.

It is not easy to accept the demise of a close friend, but Prasanna wants to cherish the good old memories.

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