Former Indian Cricket Captain Ajit Wadekar passed away at the age of 77 in Mumbai’s Jaslok Hospital after suffering from a prolonged illness on Wednesday, 15 August.
Early Life :
Wadekar was born on 1 April 1941 in Bombay. His father wanted him to become an engineer but he preferred to play cricket. At the age of 17, he made his first class debut for Bombay in 1958-59. He made his international debut in Test matches against West Indies at the Brabourne stadium in Bombay in December 1966.
Wadekar as a Cricketer :
Wadekar played 37 Test matches for India and have scored 2,113 runs at an average of 31.07 including a century against New Zealand which was instrumental in India’s first series win abroad. He was also India’s first ODI captain and represented in India’s first ever One Day International match against England. He played 2 ODIs and top scored 67* in one of the games. Wadekar batted at number three and is considered as one of the best to have represented India. He was also a brilliant slip fielder.
Wadekar as a Captain :
Ajit Wadekar is credited as the captain who gave India its first away series win. It was under his captaincy that India won against New Zealand in 1968. Later in 1971, he led to historic Test series victories in West Indies and England. In West Indies, India clinched the five match Test series 1-0 and similarly in England, India won the three match Test series 1-0. Wadekar captained India in 16 Test matches having won 4 and lost 4 matches.
Post Retirement :
Wadekar served as a coach cum manager of the Indian team in the early 1990s alongside captain Mohammed Azharuddin. Under his tenure, India became a dominant force in home conditions as didn’t lose a single series at home.
He is one of the few Indians to represent the country as player, captain, coach /manager and chairman of selectors.
The Government of India honoured him with the Arjuna Award in 1967 and the fourth highest civilian award – Padmashri in 1972. He was also awarded the CK Nayadu Lifetime achievement award for his contribution to Indian cricket.