For many, Vithal ‘Marshall’ Patil was a coach and mentor. But for Podar College cricketers he was an institution. Patil, the former Mumbai swing bowler and selector, whi coached the Matunga college team for 47 years, passed away on Tuesday evening.
His pupils which included the likes of Dilip Vengsarkar, Ravi Shastri and Sanjay Manjrekar attended his funeral yesterday at Shivaji Park crematorium where former Podar batsman Jitendra Thakre (above left) handed their college cap to captain Shastri to be placed on Patil’s body. The emotion of it all was palpable.
You deserve this, SIR! Ravi Shastri places a Podar College cap on his coach Vithal Patil’s body at the Shivaji Park crematorium yesterday. PIC/DATTA KUMBHAR
This special cap, with Patil’s signature embossed on it, was made for Patil’s felicitation function held at the Bombay Gymkhana in 2008.
“It was a very emotional moment for me. He was more than a coach. He was a disciplinarian and it’s because of him that I don’t get late for my commentary or any other commitments. Hats off to Thakre to think of this (cap) idea. Sir was an institution in himself. To serve a place (Podar College and Dadar Union Sporting Club) selflessly with so much dedication for all these years is simply terrific. He has left a rich legacy behind,” Shastri told mid-day.
Shastri along with Manjrekar and Milind Rege reminisced about the time they spent with Patil. While Shastri recalled how a cricketer was not allowed to play any match for a week as a punishment for turning up late on a few occasions, Rege remembered Patil using the same ball for a month during practice sessions.
“He would carry it in his pocket. His control over the seam was so good that the ball’s condition would last so long. Nowadays, no one is able to keep the ball in good shape after a few practice sessions. He had unique ways to shine the ball. He was a master at it,” said Rege, who joined Dadar Union at the age of 16.
Manjrekar recalled his coach’s sense of humour “It will be tough to find these (referring to Patil and Madhav Mantri) kind of personalities again. They were unique,” said Manjrekar.
A huge crowd turned up for Patil’s funeral including his former Dadar Union bowling partner Urmikant Modi, who came especially from USA. For a man who served city cricket for five decades, the cricketing fraternity expected the presence of several Mumbai Cricket Association officials at the funeral. Managing Committee member Ramesh Vazge was seen overseeing funeral arrangements.