Ajit Wadekar's visit to the mid-day office on Monday was as pleasurable for us as it was to the former India cricket captain. Wadekar dropped in on our invitation to watch some footage of his playing days, collected by our in-house cricket enthusiast, who has a large collection of DVDs bought from the Films Division of India (we suggest you make a trip there too).
Former India captain Ajit Wadekar watches old cricket footage at the mid-day office on Monday. Pic/Shadab Khan
"From where did you get all this wonderful footage?" would be his oft-asked question, who was thrilled to see himself as a young man. His eyes lit up when he was shown his 235 for Mumbai in the Ranji Trophy final against Rajasthan at the Brabourne Stadium, scored as a 21-year-old batsman in 1962.
Next on the screen was the India vs West Indies series in 1966-67 when he made his Test debut in the opening Test at Mumbai. Wadekar narrated the story about how the West Indies captain Garfield Sobers watched him batting in the nets before the Test with torn shoes. "You are going to play international cricket, young man.
You need to wear good shoes," Sobers said, to which Wadekar replied that those were his lucky pair. Later in the day, when Sobers was on his way to Juhu for a social engagement and Wadekar was out with his friends, he dropped in at the Wadekar residence at Shivaji Park and handed over a new pair of shoes to Wadekar's mother. Mrs Wadekar insisted that her son wear the gifted pair the next morning at the Test.
Little did Sobers know that in four year's time, Wadekar would be his opposing captain in the West Indies where India won their first Test series in the Caribbean for the very first time.
We also showed Wadekar footage of his team leaving for the West Indies 45 Februarys ago. "I used to look like that," he asked with a chuckle when he saw himself boarding the plane.
Probably, the best part of the evening was when he saw the footage of the Indian team's return to Mumbai from the victorious 1971 West Indies and England tours. The motorcade across Mumbai — from the Santacruz airport to Brabourne Stadium made him nostalgic. "It feels so great to watch this and to go back in time. What lovely memories," he exclaimed.
To say it was an evening well spent would be as obvious as saying Wadekar was a fine left-handed batsman and a wily, successful captain of India. Thanks for coming, Sir.