Arvind Apte, the India opening batsman, who played his solitary Test at Leeds on the 1959 tour of England, passed away in Pune yesterday after a debilitating illness. He was 79.

Arvind Apte at the Lord's Cricket Ground in 2011. Pic/Clayton Murzello
Arvind Apte at the Lord's Cricket Ground in 2011. Pic/Clayton Murzello 

Apte, the younger brother of Test player Madhav, was pressed into service for that Leeds Test after Brian Statham broke Nari Contractor's ribs in the previous Test at Lord's.

Apte was dismissed in both innings by paceman Alan Moss without reaching double

After making his debut for Mumbai in the 1956-57 season, like several city Ranji stars did after their best years, Apte shifted to Rajasthan and played for the state from 1968-69 to 1970-71.

Erstwhile India and Rajasthan all-rounder Salim Durrani was shocked to hear the news of Apte's demise. "I am deeply saddened by this news.

Arvindbhai was a fine opening batsman, but above all, a great human being. He had a tremendous sense of humour. I used to listen in awe when he and Vijay Manjrekar used to talk about batting technique," Durrani told mid-day from Jamnagar yesterday.

Durrani felt Apte's 137 and 80 for Rajasthan against Delhi's Bishan & Co in the Ranji Trophy quarter-final at the Kotla in 1969 were innings of superior quality.
Contractor recalled being Apte's roommate throughout the five-month tour of England. "He was such a nice bloke — very unassuming and friendly. I am very sad," said Contractor.

Regular at Lord's
Apte was a regular at Lord's ever since he became a Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) member in 1970. When we caught up during the 2011 India vs Test at the spiritual home of cricket, he was seen with his India tie. "I take great pride wearing the India tie.

I don't know why those who have represented India, don't wear their tie often," he said, even as his friend Kiran More was standing besides him wearing the MCC tie.

"When I went to Lord's for the MCC vs Rest of the World game, I missed two of my regular companions — Arvind and Keki Kotwal (the CCI administrator, who passed away in May). We three used to sit in the Long Room for matches," recalled More.

As Contractor said in his tribute, "another wicket down from the 1959 touring party."