Anecdotes flew thick and fast on Tuesday evening and the audience caught on with the same ease as Eknath Solkar took those catches at close-in. Doubtless, the launch of the Eknath Solkar Foundation was a hit.
Ravi Shastri (right) demonstrates how Eknath Solkar fielded during a
Ranji Trophy match as Sunil Gavaskar (left) and Ajit Wadekar look on
during the departed all-rounder's academy launch on Tuesday.
The foundation has been formed by the departed all-rounder's family and close friends to keep the memory alive of one of India's finest players, who was blessed with bravado of a rare kind.
One of the objectives of the foundation is an academy that will focus on producing all-rounders in Mumbai.
Here's what was narrated by some of Solkar's teammates at the Veer Savarkar Auditorium, near Shivaji Park:
Gundappa Viswanath: Ekki got out for a duck on debut (vs New Zealand at Hyderabad in 1969) and was naturally upset. To cool him down, I put across names of all the top cricketers who also scored zero on debut.
I was just shooting off names and had no clue whether I was right. But it solved the purpose. Then, when I got out for a duck in my debut match at Kanpur (vs Australia in 1969), he also threw up all possible names of great batsmen to calm me. It was so funny.He used to always hum Ae bhai zara dekh ke chalo. He just loved singing it.
Sunil Gavaskar: During a tour game in the West Indies (1971), Ekki was running backwards for a catch when we heard a spectator from the stand shouting 'Solkaaarr Solkaaarr (in Caribbean accent), I will give you my sister if you drop this catch'. When Ekki took the catch, we asked him if he had heard something from the stands. He hadn't.
But when we told him about it, he immediately turned towards the spectator and said, 'you keep your sister as I am already married.'
Karsan Ghavri: Garfield Sobers was quite frustrated as Ekki was leaving many balls. He came up to him and said, 'the bat is given to hit the ball and not to leave balls. Play your shots.' Solkar hit back at Sobers: 'You may be Gary Sobers, but you play your cricket and I play mine. You don't teach me how to play cricket.' That was Eknath Solkar for us -- confident and fearless cricketer.
Ajit Wadekar: There was a bit of rivalry between Ekki and Boycott on the 1971 tour to England. Boycott was on his way to the pavilion when I heard Ekki telling him, 'go and tell your aunty'. I asked Solkar what made him say that. He replied, 'because his girlfriend is older than him'.