‘Wanted to be a batsman, had same coach’: Former India pacer reveals why he was dubbed ‘next Sachin Tendulkar’
India seamer Ajit Agarkar had a rather memorable India career, grabbing 349 international wickets, but it may surprise you that he wanted to become a batsman while growing up. In fact, Agarkar’s promise with the bat was such that he was even compared to the great Sachin Tendulkar, and even tipped to one day become as big a batsman as the India great. Speaking to Agarkar on a video posted to his YouTube channel, former India opener Aakash Chopra touched upon the topic. “We were there was a player for Mumbai, his name was Ajit Agarkar and Sachin Tendulkar has given him pads also. Agarkar will be the next Tendulkar,” he recalled.
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In response, Agarkar explained the times he realised he was a good fit for a batsman: “Actually, it started because I wanted to become a batsman. In school I used to make runs, our coach was the same - Ramakant Achrekar and he must have seen something in me. Sachin Tendulkar was by then the next big thing to come out of his coaching. Pravin Amre and many others also came before Sachin and were doing well. Many used to come out of his academy.”
Agarkar batted just twice in his first 12 ODIs, but barring a 30 and unbeaten 26 against Sri Lanka in Sharjah, he hardly got opportunities to bat. Then came the dreaded Test series against Australia, a team against which Agarkar recorded six ducks in a row, immensely hurting his batting credentials. Agarkar does however have a batting record which Tendulkar doesn’t, and that’s a hundred at Lord’s – which he scored against England in 2002.
“I used to make good runs and that was the perception of people. Now when you play well at the age of 16 you go and play IPL but then there was a fixed step to reach the national team. I used to make runs and there was a news going around that there might be a new batsman coming from Mumbai but at that age you think just of progressing in your game,” Agarkar continued.
“Sachin gave me gloves. We were in the same school and he thought someone was performing well and so he gave me gloves. I didn’t know him much then. I did not use his pad, maybe I could have become a better batsman if I had used his pad.”