Mumbai's cricket fraternity paid rich tributes to former India player Madhav Mantri at the Wankhede Stadium yesterday. Mantri (92) was India's oldest living Test cricketer before passing away on May 23.
Sharad Pawar pays respect to the late Madhav Mantri yesterday. Pic/Bipin Kokate
Mantri headed the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) in the 1980s and early 1990s. Current MCA president Sharad Pawar recalled: "He spent his full life for the betterment of cricket.
He would be present at each and every match at Wankhede Stadium. It was a privilege to sit besides a man of that stature and listen to his thoughts on the game. He had a terrific impact on the minds of people and made a tremendous contribution to Mumbai cricket," said Pawar.
Former India and Mumbai captain Dilip Vengsarkar, recalled his association with Mantri. "People used to respect and admire him for his discipline. Madhav Mantri was a brilliant captain and Mumbai won many matches under him. He along with Polly Umrigar understood the game inside out.
I remember him arriving at the ground after office hours and giving us fielding practice. I was fortunate to interact to him in recent times," said Vengsarkar of his fellow Dadar Union Sporting Club stalwart.
Vilas Godbole, who played under Mantri at Dadar Union, recalled: "We were playing against Shivaji Park Gymkhana (SPG) in a rain-affected match. They scored 60 in the first innings and the umpire asked him which roller would he use. Mantri surprised everybody and declined to use the roller. Dadar Union chased the total with five wickets in hand."
When Godbole asked Mantri the reason for his decision, the veteran told him that when SPG were batting, the pitch was very damp. When it was Dadar Union's time to bat, the sun had come out and the wicket was drying. The roller would get the moisture back on the plot and make it difficult to chase."
MCA vice-president Ravi Savant said: "In 1990, I was the treasurer of the association and he was President. Initially, we had our difference of opinion, but once he understood my point and vision, he always backed me."