Wadekar tributes

‘Great man and wonderful captain’ – tributes pour in for Ajit Wadekar

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Voices from the cricket community and beyond came together to pay tribute to one of India’s most iconic captains, Ajit Wadekar.

Wadekar, 77, passed away in Mumbai on Wednesday, 15 August after a prolonged illness.

The left-hander, who represented India from 1966 to 1974, scored 2113 runs in 37 Test matches, and has 14 half-centuries and one century to his name in the longest format. He was also India's maiden ODI captain.

As Rajdeep Sardesai, political journalist, cricket writer and son of Dilip Sardesai who played under Wadekar, wrote in a tribute, he was the "quintessential Maharashtrian middle class hero from Shivaji Park with a pencil moustache, white shirt and tight black trousers and Kolhapuri chappals. With his slightly bent gait and slow drawl and slightly accented vocabulary, he might not have suited the media age of today but for a quieter gentler era, he was the perfect cricket ambassador".

India trailing 2-0 in the ongoing Test series against England is a reminder of why Wadekar’s feat of leading his team to series victories in 1971 in England and West Indies is so significant even today.

Wadekar, who made his debut against England at the Brabourne Stadium in Mumbai in 1966, also had a successful coaching tenure with India. It coincided with Mohammad Azharuddin’s captaincy stint.

He left several indelible memories. Shashi Tharoor, politician and cricket columnist, shared some of his, as did Boman Irani, the Indian actor.

But more than anything, he was a gentleman.

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