If there’s one photograph that Sachin Tendulkar would have loved to display on his wall at home, it would probably be an image of himself sitting behind Ramakant Achrekar while the coach rode his Lambretta to take him from one match to another in the mid-1980s.
But vivid memories would suffice for both, who meet regularly enough and enjoy each other’s company. It was Achrekar, who taught Tendulkar everything there was to run-making and got him to maximise his potential in such a way that visitors at his nets in Shivaji Park couldn’t help noticing a young, bold, attacking Tendulkar.
Former Test umpire Piloo Reporter was visiting Achrekar’s stable to check on how an office superior’s kid was faring at a summer camp when Achrekar asked the then Test umpire to have a look at Tendulkar batting at a nearby net.
“I was amazed at how a boy so young could hit bowlers out of the ground at will. He was simply audacious… tremendous,” Reporter told MiD DAY
yesterday. After thorough net sessions, Achrekar’s emphasis was on playing matches aplenty. And yes, there was discipline.
Tendulkar is not coy to admit that he was at the receiving end of Achrekar’s hand on a few occasions. One notable occasion was when he went over to Wankhede Stadium to cheer for the Shardashram Vidyamandir Harris Shield team instead of playing a practice match at Shivaji Park which ‘Sir’ had organised for him to bat at No 4.
The impact of Achrekar’s hand caused Tendulkar’s tiffin box to go for a toss. Achrekar has a very special place in Tendulkar’s heart. I saw his pain from close quarters. I was interviewing Tendulkar in his car while he driving from the airport (yes, he loved being behind the wheel, jet lag notwithstanding) after arriving in Mumbai from the 1996 tour of England.
After ending the interview, I thought I should inform him about a tragedy Achrekar experienced while he was on tour. Slowing down, he put his head on the steering wheel and uttered a few words in regret and expressed his desire to meet him that very day.
Can Mumbai produce a player possessing even a fraction of Tendulkar’s ability is the big question now. Probably, an even bigger question is whether the city has a coach like Achrekar.
Ramakant Achrekar is ‘first-class’
The man who coached Sachin Tendulkar and a large group of first-class cricketers didn’t play Ranji Trophy cricket. However, since he played for State Bank of India when the Moin-ud-Dowla tournament in Hyderabad was considered a first-class event, he is indeed a first-class cricketer! Achrekar played the tournament’s quarter-final in 1963 which Hyderabad CA won by six wickets.