Fletcher remembers Wadekar as ‘a genuine, nice man’

From the opposition dressing room, Keith Fletcher witnessed history in 1971 when Ajit Wadekar’s side beat England at The Oval to clinch the series 1-0.

England's Keith Fletcher remembers the 1971 loss as 'more of a poor performance by us rather than a great performance by India'. Photo: V. V. Krishnan (The Hindu Archives)

Former England batsman Keith Fletcher, who was part of the historic Oval Test match that India won under Ajit Wadekar in 1971, remembers the man as somebody who backed his strengths.

A few hours after Wadekar’s demise, Sportstar rang up Fletcher at his United Kingdom residence to understand the enigma of the man who led India to its maiden series win in England. “I thought he was a good captain. He certainly had the respect of his side, and as far as his batting goes, he made the most of his ability. He was a genuine, nice man,” said Fletcher.

‘Poor performance by us’

He admitted that England faired poorly against the Indian spin trio of Bishan Singh Bedi, Srinivas Venkataraghavan and B. S. Chandrasekhar, who finished with a six-for. “As far as I remember, we played pretty badly. I got to be honest. It was not that much of a turning pitch. There was no way Chandrasekhar should have taken the wickets he did take. He put the pressure on us. He is the bowler who did it, but I would say it was more of a poor performance by us rather than a great performance by India,” Fletcher recalled.

Read: Wadekar started a new era, says Prasanna

It is a coincidence that Wadekar passed away at a time when the Indian team is in the middle of a Test series in England.

Fletcher has been following the series. “I think India is a lot better side than what they have shown here. They have three Tests to prove themselves, and it is going to be tough. I thought they would certainly draw the series and there would be a tight contest. But they underperformed. I think they were underprepared,” he said.