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Ajit Wadekar was coach, friend and mentor: Sachin Tendulkar

India legend Sachin Tendulkar has paid tribute to his former coach Ajit Wadekar

cricket Updated: Aug 17, 2018 09:00 IST
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
Ajit Wadekar,Sachin Tendulkar,Cricket
Ajit wadekar played a critical role in Sachin Tendulkar becoming an opening batsman in ODI cricket.(Kunal Patil/HT Photo)

The news of Ajit Wadekar Sir’s passing away came as a complete shock to me. I had met him sometime ago and he had looked normal.

We have spent a lot of time together. I remember he was appointed our coach at the end of 1992, and he came as someone who had worn multiple hats, having been the captain of India, a great player himself, and most of all he was a real good person.

Slowly, he got to understand us, to the extent that he became friends with us. He would sit with Vinod Kambli and myself and chat like friends.

It was quite an adjustment he had made being so senior to us. He was our coach at a critical stage of our careers, Vinod was 21 and I was 20. It was fantastic to have him.

He was would be dead serious when it came to the game and he had to tell us something important. He would really challenge us and we would challenge him. For example, in training before a Test match, he would give us the toughest of catches and we would challenge him that he should make us drop one.

When we would be celebrating a win, he would be fun to be with, cracking jokes. We could crack jokes with each other and at each other’s expense. Segregation is something I learnt from him: when you went time-pass, you do time-pass, when you are training or playing, you put everything else aside and completely focus on the job.

ALSO READ | Ajit Wadekar: Top 5 moments from career of the leader who taught India to win overseas

For a good team it is critical to have a good coach.

Opening move

He did play a critical part in my becoming an opening batsman in one-day cricket (1994 Auckland, v New Zealand). Navjot Singh Sidhu had a stiff neck and I told Mr Wadekar, I feel I should open the innings. I could only do that because we shared such a great rapport. ‘I need only one chance, I know I can do it,’ I told him. We were very much on the same page and we went to captain Mohammed Azharuddin and the meeting happened at the ground (before the match). Azhar and Wadekar Sir agreed and it was such a big decision because till then I had only batted at No 4 and No 6.

When in Sri Lanka, he would take Vinod and me to his friend’s house and we would polish off all the crabs and he would crack jokes on that as well.

If he felt anything was wrong in our game, he would point out our mistakes and told us what we had to do. Always, emphasising on the khadoos attitude of never to give the wicket away easily.

He loved us from the bottom of his heart. He was our friend, mentor and coach.

(As told to Sanjjeev K Samyal)

First Published: Aug 16, 2018 23:34 IST