India's batting legend Sunil Gavaskar paid rich tributes to his first Ranji Trophy and Test captain Ajit Wadekar right opposite Shivaji Park, the nursery of Mumbai cricket yesterday.
Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis (left) felicitates Ajit Wadekar yesterday. Pic/Suresh Karkera
"I never saw Ajit (Wadekar) angry or use a harsh word to anyone. I never saw him lose his cool. I don't know how much MS Dhoni has taken from him, but I think the original Captain Cool was Ajit Wadekar," said Sunil Gavaskar at a felicitation function for the former India skipper who completed 75 on April 1.
"For the leadership qualities he (Wadekar) had, he never got much recognition. He was always called a lucky captain and I can never understand that. The way he took decisions by taking other players into confidence was amazing," Gavaskar added.
Pravin Amre, the former India batsman, who toured South Africa in 1992-93 with Wadekar as Cricket Manager, said: "I got a chance to play my first Test against South Africa because of sir.
"There was a perception that I could only play well against spinners, but he gave me a chance on a difficult Durban wicket, known for its pace and bounce. At that time, sir was the only person who stood by me and gave me confidence," said Amre who scored 103 on Test debut against a formidable SA attack led by Allan Donald. Former India captain Mohd Azharuddin, who formed a fine captain-cricket manager combination with Wadekar, recalled Wadekar being "very humble, but strict too."
"Sir always encouraged us to win. When we lost a match during the 1992 series against South Africa, he laid down a curfew. No one could step out of their room after 10 pm. He is a father figure for me," said Azhar.
Wadekar turned back the clock too — to the time when he earned R3 for being 12th man for his first inter-college match. "The Ruia College team was in need of a 12th man, so someone told me that I would get R3 for being 12th man. I realise now that those three rupees gave me a large number of friends," he said.